September 18 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Nearly 1,000 people in the Breckland area have been affected by the bedroom tax it has been revealed.
Now a district councillor has said the council should be “bold” in tackling the issue.
The removal of the spare room subsidy, which came into effect in April 2013, means a cut to the housing benefit received of 14pc if there is a spare bedroom in a home or 25pc if there are two or more spare rooms. Labour councillor Terry Jermy said that a number of those affected by the reduction were struggling to make ends meet.
He said: “Housing is not a statutory responsibility of the council but neither is broadband and the council is being very bold in tackling broadband so why not housing as well.
“I think people have underestimated the impact of the bedroom tax and the housing benefit situation.
“We have over 3,000 people in receipt of housing benefit.
“I have been out and spoken to people affected by it and they are not saying ‘I want to stay in this house’, they are happy to move to a one-bedroom or two-bedroom house, they don’t need the extra space.
“There is a massive shortage of suitable housing.”
Mr Jermy added that he thought Breckland should look in to following other councils, such as Great Yarmouth and Ipswich, in building its own homes.
Ellen Jolly, Breckland member for finance and democratic services, has recently had housing added to her portfolio and said it was something she would look into.
She said: “There are 944 people affected by the reduction of the spare room subsidy and that has come down from when it first came in last year.
“We are looking in to how many people are in housing that is too large for them and once that research is done we will be in a better place to look at it.
“On the flip side there are some people in houses waiting for a three-bedroom house.”
Mrs Jolly said that while the issues may have to be dealt with by long term measures there might be some solutions in a shorter time frame.
She said: “I think there are ways of looking at things in the short term.
“We will be looking at what councils can do now because it has changed a lot.”
Mrs Jolly added that the possibility of building houses was on the radar and that the council would look at increasing the amount of affordable housing in the area.