May 25 2013 Latest news:
Friday, March 8, 2013
THE Government has defended its controversial “bedroom tax” policy by insisting it will help the thousands of people waiting for social housing in Cambridgeshire.
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said changes to the housing benefit, which would end the “spare room subsidy”, are fair and necessary.
He pointed to the 19,479 households stuck on a waiting list for social housing in Cambridgeshire and the 22,000 households living in overcrowded homes in the East of England.
Mr Duncan Smith said: “There’s nothing fair about making families wait and wait for a house that is big enough, while other households on benefits are allowed to live in homes that are too big for their needs, at no extra cost.”
From April, housing benefit claimants living in social housing with spare bedrooms will be expected to make a contribution towards the rent for those spare rooms.
Mr Duncan Smith said: “On average, the extra charge for claimants will be £14 a week.
“Some people will decide to take up work or work a few more hours to cover the difference. Others will want to move to more appropriately-sized accommodation or take in a lodger.
“This change will bring housing benefit for social housing claimants in line with what happens in the private sector already.
“But more fundamentally, ending the spare room subsidy will help us get a better grip of our social housing – and give hope to those households in Cambridgeshire who are currently squeezed into overcrowded homes.
“Of course there will be situations where it would not make sense for people to move, or where personal circumstances mean that extra support will be necessary.
“That’s why we have given £155million to local authorities to help with these cases. This includes £30million targeted specifically at helping disabled people whose homes have been adapted and for foster carers.
“Pensioners and people living in temporary accommodation will not be affected by these changes.
“People who need a spare room for an overnight carer are also exempt, and bereaving families will have a year before the policy will affect them.”
Mr Duncan Smith said councils and housing associations would get ready for the reform by running “housing swaps and other innovative programmes”.
He added: “These changes are about fairness.
“We will be able to make better use of social housing in Cambridgeshire, and help more families into their own home, whilst keeping the welfare budget under control.
“At the same time we will make sure that people in difficult situations are protected. That’s fair.”