Bedroom tax set to hit families hard

NEARLY 1,000 low income families in West Sussex could lose money if the government goes ahead with its ‘bedroom tax’.

Around 463 families in the Horsham constituency could be affected. In Arundel and South Downs constituency an estimated 410 families could pay the under-occupation penalty, according to analysis from the National Housing Federation.

Under plans in the Welfare Reform Bill, south east families are set to be hit by a ‘bedroom tax’ because their homes are deemed too large.

The analysis reveals the average social rent for a two or more bedroom property in Horsham per week is £100.28, the average tax on one extra bedroom per week would be £14.04 and per year £730.03. In Arundel and South Downs the average rent is £99.79, the tax on one extra bedroom per week would be £13.97 and per year £726.46.

In December, members of the House of Lords opposed the government, backing a cross-party amendment to exempt those families with just one additional bedroom where there are no alternative properties for them to downsize to.

Yesterday (Wednesday February 1) the Welfare Reform Bill was due to return to the Commons.

The federation said nearly 80 housing, family and disability organisations were calling on MPs to ensure the government listened to the clear message sent by peers by allowing this compromise to stand. Otherwise, it said, these households will be forced to choose between going into debt, cutting back on essentials, or trying to move.

Kate Dodsworth, assistant director of the National Housing Federation for the south east, said: “This bedroom tax has worried us for a long time but now these new figures show the actual damage for local people.

“Penalising south east families for under-occupying when they have nowhere to move to is unfair and unjust.

“We urge ministers to accept the amendment and vote for it to stand. Otherwise there will be disastrous implications for huge numbers of people already struggling to make ends meet.”