Petitioners ask council to ditch ‘bedroom tax’

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More than 1,000 residents have signed a petition asking Crawley Borough Council to not comply with the Government’s ‘bedroom tax’ rules.

Under the new rules people who have a spare room in a council house have to move or lose some of their housing benefit unless they are elderly or have certain disabilities.

Campaigners say 882 households in Crawley are affected and they presented the petition at the full council meeting on Wednesday.

Cabinet member for housing Cllr Richard Burrett said: “The petition presumes eviction is a first resort. It’s not. It’s always a last resort. We try to help them find a way to help them with their circumstances. Of those tenants affected, over 300 are not in arrears at all, and 81 had been in arrears since before April but had reduced their arrears levels since then.”

Labour councillors supported the petition.

Cllr Stephen Joyce, shadow cabinet member for housing said: “I support this petition because I don’t believe anybody should be evicted because they get into debt because of this cruel law. We built two and three bed houses in Crawley. Even if they want to move, they cannot find anywhere to move to.”

A motion to support the request was lost 15 votes to 16 with one abstention.