A report has studied the impacts of the new under occupancy ‘bedroom tax’ rules on Rugbeians and the likely impact of the new benefits cap.
From April this year those in receipt of housing benefit had their benefit cut if the Government believed they lived in a house with more bedrooms than they needed. Those with one extra bedroom faced a 14 per cent cut, and those with two spare bedrooms or more a 25 per cent cut.
The amount of council tax benefit that 3,800 people in Rugby were entitled to also dropped and the report revealed a year-on-year rise in summons issued for council tax payments from 1,267 in May 2012 to 1,813 in May 12013. It also said that a total of 685 households were affected by the bedroom rules, which also took affect in April, which, the council said, was possibly attributable to Rugby rent arrears rising from £44,000 to nearly £50,000. The council also say 75 households have requested to move to a smaller home. The report revealed that 47 people in Rugby will be affected by the benefits cap, with their benefits being cut between 92 pence and £231 per week.
David Gooding, Rugby CAB’s district manager, said: “We are seeing people about a number of different issues including disabled people who are being told they are fit for work having undergone what is widely recognised as a flawed work capability test, those who are having to pay council tax for the first time and others affected by the bedroom tax. Many are very distressed and this is impacting on their physical and mental health while their children suffer as well.”
He added: “This is an appalling situation which is hurting the most vulnerable people. What we are seeing at present is only the tip of the iceberg and it is early days, yet already we are seeing an increase in people having rent arrears and we will soon be seeing those with problems paying their council tax being pursued by bailiffs. We are also seeing people being left with no money, reliant on the local Food Bank.”
Mark Pawsey MP responded: “We have seen huge increases in the cost of welfare in recent years, with the Housing Benefit bill alone now costing more than we spend on our army and navy combined. So it is right to make the system fairer for the tax payer whilst ensuring it fully supports our most vulnerable citizens.
“We must get Britain back to work, stop the abuse of the system and help those who cannot work whilst always ensuring that works pays. While many families in Rugby are living in overcrowded properties, the tax payer picks up the bill for some people to live in homes larger than they need. I do not believe this is fair, and judging by the reaction to the reforms when I have knocked on doors recently I do not believe that other Rugby residents do either.”