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'Bedroom tax' has hit more than 8,000 people in Devon & Cornwall

By GDemianyk  |  Posted: November 18, 2013

george

St Ives MP Andrew George

Comments (20)

More than 8,000 people in Devon and Cornwall have been hit by the so-called “bedroom tax” since it came into effect six months ago, official figures have revealed.

The controversial welfare reform sees housing benefit cut if someone living in social housing is deemed to have an extra bedroom in their property.

Housing associations, opposition politicians and charities have all condemned under-occupancy penalty, which they say penalises some of the most vulnerable people in society.

The Government argues the penalty – called a spare room subsidy by proponents – is supposed to encourage people with additional rooms to move to a smaller property.

However, critics say a shortage of suitable housing means many people are trapped in larger properties and have no choice but to run up huge debts as their housing benefit will no longer cover the full cost of their rent.

A Labour motion in the House of Commons to abolish the policy was defeated by 252 votes to 226 on Tuesday.

In the debate, Andrew George, Liberal Democrat MP for St Ives, said the policy was “immoral” and “Dickensian”.

And Alison Seabeck, Labour MP for Plymouth Moor View, said the “diabolical” bedroom tax was causing “untold misery” in the city.

Around 8,200 have been hit by the tax in Devon and Cornwall.

In Cornwall 2,833 people have been affected, in Devon 2,877, Plymouth 1,938 and Torbay 549.

Welfare Reform Minister Lord Freud said: “With 2.1 million households currently on the social housing waiting list due to a shortage of suitable properties, we believed this was unfair and the system had to be changed to help those families who were crammed into accommodation that was too small.”

He said although the changes have already led to a reduction in the housing benefit bill, it will be next year before it begins to free up enough homes to help those trapped in accommodation that is too small.

In August, an estimated 3,328 social householders in Cornwall were estimated to be hit – but there were only 65 one or two-bedroom council properties vacant in the area.

In the Commons, Mr George told MPs the bedroom tax was “Dickensian in its social divisiveness”. “It is an immoral policy,” he said, adding: “The ghettos of the future will be built as a result of this policy.”

Housing benefit will be cut by 14% for those deemed to have an extra bedroom and 25% for claimants with two or more spare bedrooms.

Ms Seabeck said: “People in my constituency are borrowing money from relatives, from payday lenders and from loan sharks, but now they are finding that the money has run out. Mum and Dad cannot afford to sub them any more, the payday lenders want their money back plus 100%, and the loan sharks want their pound of flesh.”

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20 comments

  • barney2  |  November 19 2013, 9:08PM

    Foldart Call it what you like. Genuine people as well as cheats are having money taken away from them for something that is out of there control.

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  • barney2  |  November 19 2013, 9:08PM

    Foldart Call it what you like. Genuine people as well as cheats are having money taken away from them for something that is out of there control.

    Rate   2
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  • Nikgee  |  November 19 2013, 6:49PM

    I find some of the comments amazing, people want to move... but there isn't the properties available for them to move into... So getting financially punished for something that is out of your control is unjust

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  • Tony248  |  November 19 2013, 6:03PM

    Foldart, as you think it's so fair, can you advance any explanation as to why the taxpayer cannot subsidise underoccupying social housing, but must continue to subsidise underoccupation in private sector housing? Some of us cynics think it is because the Government wouldn't want its rich landlord friends to risk losing rent money if the tenants cannot pay....

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  • Foldart  |  November 19 2013, 5:42PM

    @barney2 - This is not a tax. This is removing the taxpayer subsidy for having unused rooms. It's fair and it will sort itself out in time. there will be a lot of whinging on the way but that's expected. Truly needy people will get the consideration they deserve from funds set aside by the government.

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  • barney2  |  November 19 2013, 5:13PM

    I am very critical on the benefit system in this country but this tax targets innocent people as well as cheats. Only people that choose to stay in accommodation that is to large for them should have to pay this tax. There is no smaller accommodation to move them to so genuine people as well as the cheats have to stay where they are and pay this tax out of money they do not have. The government new this but did not care. Not all people on benefits are cheats do not tar them all with the same brush, you may be in there position one day. They should target the cheats not people that are in desperate situations through no fault of there own.

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  • Foldart  |  November 19 2013, 4:12PM

    @Kazkazkaz - Your pure logic and reason are wasted here. You will be voted down by those who think the country owes them something they haven't earned. And, it seems, there are a lot of those which makes the Tory's job that much harder but they STILL have the backing of the majority.

    Rate   -1
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  • Foldart  |  November 19 2013, 4:11PM

    @Kazkazkaz - Your pure logic and reason are wasted here. You will be voted down by those who think the country owes them something they haven't earned. And, it seems, there are a lot of those which makes the Tory's job that much harder but they STILL have the backing of the majority.

    Rate   -1
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  • Foldart  |  November 19 2013, 4:10PM

    @Kazkazkaz - Your pure logic and reason are wasted here. You will be voted down by those who think the country owes them something they haven't earned. And, it seems, there are a lot of those which makes the Tory's job that much harder but they STILL have the backing of the majority.

    Rate   -4
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  • barney2  |  November 18 2013, 8:08PM

    Unfortunately a lot of tory mp's are not blessed with common sense also a bit short on humanity. Perhaps we will be lucky enough to be rid of them in 2015.

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