Government’s new ruling is taxing people’s stress levels say Citizens Advice Bureau
- Credit: Archant
CITIZEN Advice Bureau teams across the region want to recruit more volunteers to advise worried tenants whose rent is being cut under the Government’s new Bedroom Tax policy.
The new ruling, which came into force on April Fools Day, means thousands of people across the area will be faced with an under-occupancy charge if they are deemed to be living in a home with too many bedrooms for their needs.
Rural Cambs CAB says the stress is overwhelming for many tenants who are worrying how to find ways of making up their rent.
For landlords it will become increasingly frustrating as they watch previously model tenants fall behind on payments.
A disabled couple who are unable to work went to the bureau in Church Mews, Wisbech, for advice after becoming desperately worried about the future.
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The couple live in a three bedroom home and due to their disabilities, often sleep in separate rooms, but were considered to be under occupying by two bedrooms.
“Their rent is £116 a week which used to be covered in full by Housing Benefit but from this week they will need to find nearly £30 per week towards the rent, plus another £2.30 towards Council Tax,” said Beverley Howard, Chief Officer of Rural Cambs CAB.
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The situation has put a strain on their relationship and the woman is now suffering from depression, said Mrs Howard, who added it had pushed them to thinking it is a choice of eating or paying the rent.
The Bedroom Tax means there will be a 14% cut in housing benefit if there is one extra bedroom.
There will be a 25% cut if there are two extra bedrooms.
Tenants are faced with finding the extra money from earnings or benefits.
For example, a couple with one child living in a three bedroom property, whose rent is £600 a month, will have £516 paid by the council.
The £84 shortfall must be found themselves.
A couple with one child living in a £600 a month four bedroom property will have £450 paid by the council and they must find the £150 shortfall themselves.
In addition, further changes means everyone on benefits will now be expected to pay a portion of their council tax.
Mrs Howard said: “People are calling in for advice in increasing numbers.
“They are extremely concerned and don’t know what they can do.
“An added pressure for everyone is the applications have to be made online.”
Some people are being told to look at taking in a lodger, although many tenancy agreements ban people from doing this.
“We can help with the forms and look at their options, such as taking in a lodger or assist them to apply for any grants, but ultimately it may be that we help them manage with less money,” said Mrs Howard.
Anyone interested in volunteering can call into their local CAB to pick up an application form or call the Wisbech branch on 01945-464367 or email email@example.com.