The great bedroom tax farce: Just 50 one-bed homes available for 7,000 hit in Newcastle


Those facing cuts include foster families, those caring for someone with a disability and divorcees who share custody of their children

Pressure: Council housing in Byker, Newcastle
Pressure: Council housing in Byker, Newcastle


By  6 Mar 2013 00:00

The bedroom tax will strip 7,000 households in one city of vital benefits, despite there being just 50 one-bed homes available to downsize to.

It lays bare the injustice of the Tories’ national plan to cut payments to council tenants with spare rooms – even when they do not have the option to go anywhere else.

The research, in Newcastle, reveals 5,379 council tenants there have one spare room.

The plan means they will lose 14% of their housing benefit, worth £8.40 a week on average.

Another 1,258 households with two spare bedrooms face a massive 25% cut, the equivalent of £15 a week, or £780 a year.

Yet Your Homes Newcastle, which looks after council housing stock, has just 50 one-bedroom homes ­available, even if those 6,637 families affected were able or wanted to move.

Those facing cuts include foster families, those caring for someone with a disability and divorcees who share custody of their children.

And there are thousands more Housing Association residents in the city, who could also be hit when the changes come in next month.

Furious Shadow Work and Pensions Minister Liam Byrne is now launching a campaign to highlight the “incompetent, unfair and out of touch” Tory plans.

He said:

“Two thirds of the households hit are home to someone who is disabled.

“Foster families will also be hit, even if they have foster children in their spare room.

“Divorced parents and grandparents will be charged more if they want to keep a room for when children or grandchildren come to stay.

“To add to the chaos, there are not enough smaller properties for ­families to move to, yet the bedroom tax will still hit households that don’t have the option to move.”

And he hit out at the tax break being given to millionaires while the bedroom tax is about to plunge 95,000 Britons into poverty.

He said:

“While families of soldiers will have to find extra money for their son or daughter’s bedroom, 13,000 millionaires will get a tax cut worth £100,000 a year on average.”

Cllr Michael Burke, Labour council spokesman on housing in Newcastle, also pointed to the bizarre ­impracticalities of the plan and called it a “complete mess”.

He said:

“If you have twins aged nine then you would have to move, because they should be able to share a room even if it is a boy and a girl.

“Once they turn 10, you could move back to a three-bedroom property because they are allowed separate rooms.”

But Tory Michael Gove remains unrepentant.

In a Commons debate this week, he crowed: “It is a timely and necessary action to deal with our out-of-control welfare bills.

“Thank heavens that a Coalition Government has two parties clearing up the mess left by that crew of socialist wreckers.”

Loophole boxes clever


Michael Brennan, 61, who faced paying bedroom tax on his 'box-room'
Tiny: Michael’s box room North news


Michael Brennan, 61, a retired technician, is fighting back with a legal challenge.

He intends to exploit a loophole in the 1985 Housing Act which means box rooms would be exempt from the tax.

Michael and wife Marie, 59, share a three-bed bungalow in Newcastle but say their third bedroom is a “box room” covered by the Act passed by Thatcher’s Tories.

Under section 326, floor space between 50 sq ft and 70 sq ft is described as not fit to be occupied by a person.

Michael said:

“Our smallest box room is 48 sq ft so it cannot be classed as a room, so it cannot be taxed.”

The couple, both disabled, face paying £25 a week out of their benefits which they say will come from food, heating and electric.

Son Terence, 40, a Royal Marine who stays when on leave and daughter Marie, 38, who sometimes stays to help, are also affected.

Marie said:

“I have worked all my life, so has Michael, my son and daughter. We are not spongers. We just need help.”

Michael added:

“I hope as many people as possible challenge this.”

How the bedroom tax works

* The ‘bedroom tax’ is not actually a tax at all, but changes to housing benefit.

* Anyone deemed to be living in a house that is “too big” for their needs will get less benefit from April, 2013.

* Payments will be cut according to extra rooms in homes. If you have one spare room, housing benefit will be cut by 14%. With two, the cut is 25%.

* Every adult or couple in a property will be allowed their own bedroom. Children under 16 and of the same gender will have to share a room. All children under the age of 10, regardless of gender, will have to share.

* The changes will only hit council and housing association tenants. If you rent a property from a private landlord you will not be affected.

* Pensioners are exempt from the cuts. For a couple, only one person needs to be of pensionable age in order to escape the benefit changes.

* Parents with a child at university will be allowed to keep his or her bedroom, without facing a reduction in housing benefit, as long as the student stays at home for at least two weeks a year.

* Anyone with a spare bedroom, like a divorced parent who has a spare room for when their child/children come to stay, will see a reduction in their housing benefit.

* The new rules allow for one bedroom for a person over 16, a couple, two children of the same sex under 16, two children who are under 10, any other child, (other than a foster child or child whose main home is elsewhere), and one additional room for a carer (or group of carers) providing overnight care.

The Daily Mirror 

4 thoughts on “The great bedroom tax farce: Just 50 one-bed homes available for 7,000 hit in Newcastle

  1. Bluesky says:

    two spare bedrooms face a massive 25% cut, the equivalent of £15 a week, or £780 a year.

    just took this comment from the top of this post, they have got it compleatly “WRONG”=the real ammount will be around this=£1.100+ per year for two bedrooms, the ammount they quoted is for “ONE BEDROOM” not two bedrooms.. WHEN WILL THE MEDIA GET THE AMMOUNT RIGHT, if you want my oppinion they work for the government to throw you off the real ammounts so it doesn’t sound so bad to the general public, it’s all lies and counter lies to blind everyone to the facts……….It makes me so “F#####G ANGRY” that these W#####S cant get it right. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

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