Bedroom tax threatens to cause disruption to thousands of Wakefield tennants

Kim Hey and family will lose �14 a week because of the government's bedroom tax and struggle to put food on the table. Changes to benefits mean families are forced to make their children share rooms and have to pay for the spare room out of their housing benefit.'Pictured: Kim Hey with Chloe Hey, Luke Hirst, and baby Jack Hey.
Kim Hey and family will lose �14 a week because of the government's bedroom tax and struggle to put food on the table. Changes to benefits mean families are forced to make their children share rooms and have to pay for the spare room out of their housing benefit.'Pictured: Kim Hey with Chloe Hey, Luke Hirst, and baby Jack Hey.
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Thousands of social housing tenants face moving home or losing money when a “bedroom tax” on spare rooms comes into force.

More than 5,000 district tenants are affected by cuts to benefits for people in council or housing association homes with a spare room.

Tenants of working age are faced with moving to a smaller home or losing money - but at the last count, just 15 one-bed properties were available from the district’s main social housing provider Wakefield and District Housing.

Tenants with children under 16 have been told children must share a bedroom - and benefits will be cut because they will then have a spare room.

Tim Kennedy, who lives with daughters Jade, 15, and Caitlyn, 11, on Sunnyhill Crescent, Wrenthorpe, will lose money after being told his daughters must share a room.

Mr Kennedy, who gave up work to look after them said: “We’ll have to cut down on the amount and the quality of the food we eat. This is just a tax on the poorest.”

Kim Hey, 39, faces losing £14 a week of £98 she gets to rent a house on Devon Grove, Ossett, where she lives with Luke, 10, Chloe-Rose, 3, and baby Jack, 1.

Mrs Hey, whose husband Darren was made redundant last year, said: “You can imagine how little money we have coming in. I don’t know what to do. I have to buy shoes, clothes, nappies. Obviously it’s going to affect us. I’m disgusted.”

Social housing tenants with one spare room will lose 14 per cent of their housing benefit and those with two spare rooms will lose 25 per cent under the new rules.

Charities estimate thousands of disabled people will be affected by the bedroom tax , including people living in specially adapted properties.

WDH estimates that more than 5,000 of its tenants will be affected.

At least 2,000 tenants live in two-bed homes with a spare room and almost 3,200 are in three bed homes with one or two spare rooms.

At the last count, WDH had just 15 one-bed, 25 two-bed and 17 three-bed homes available - a total of 58.

WDH chief executive Kevin Dodd said: “We expect demand for our smaller properties to increase significantly, and it is not clear how quickly these tenants will be able to move to alternative accommodation, or how long they will be expected to manage with a reduced income.

“Some couples need an extra bedroom because their medical conditions or disabilities mean they cannot sleep in the same room, which is unaccounted for under the under-occupation penalty.”