Over 800 families in Harlow hit by the bedroom tax

OVER 800 families in Harlow have been hit by the bedroom tax or spare room subsidy according to figures released.

In a report by the National Housing Federation, 801 Harlow families have had an average of £831 reduced from their housing benefit.

The bedroom tax came into force on 1 April, 2013 and this is the first time the Government has released data showing the actual numbers hit. But even this does not show the full extent of families affected – it excludes those working families, previously in receipt of a small amount of housing benefit, whose entitlement has been completely wiped out by the bedroom tax.

Disabled people are particularly hard-hit by the policy, with about two thirds of affected families containing someone with a disability.4 Research by charity Papworth Trust found that nine in ten disabled people would cut back on food or bills to pay the bedroom tax if they were refused a Discretionary Housing Payment.5

The National Housing Federation’s East of England external affairs manager, Claire Astbury, said:

“These new Government figures show that the bedroom tax is affecting thousands of people in the East of England – for many, there isn’t even anywhere for them to downsize to. There simply aren’t enough smaller social homes available, and the cost of private rented housing is rising all the time.

“The East of England is particularly hard hit with people here facing one of the biggest cuts in housing benefit in the country. The Government says discretionary housing payments will help those who cannot downsize, but there isn’t anywhere near enough money to go round.

“The bedroom tax is trapping many people in homes they can no longer afford and where they are struggling to pay their rents. It is unfair, badly designed, and must be repealed.”

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