Council seeks extra support for adapted housing tenants
29th October 2013
South Tyneside Council is fighting the government’s recent welfare reforms, which includes the controversial ‘bedroom tax’. The new reforms have already resulted in some tenants being forced to move from an adapted home to a property that does not have the stairlift solutions and other modifications that are essential for them to live independently.
The so-called bedroom tax has led to the housing benefit of many council house tenants being reduced by so much that they are forced to downsize to smaller and potentially unsuitable properties. The case of May Wileman, a grandmother with chronic arthritis whose council home was fitted with a stairlift and walk in shower, demonstrated how the bedroom tax may be doing more harm than good when her housing benefit was reduced by £46 a month, forcing her to leave her home.
From the perspective of South Tyneside Council, details of which can be read in this article, the £1m of public money which has been spent on adapting the council homes is going to waste as these homes are remaining empty once their previous tenants have been forced to downsize. On top of this, the smaller properties will also need to have stairlifts and walk-in baths with showers fitted, creating yet more costs for the council.
Brian Scott, a member of South Tyneside Council’s Housing Performance Panel, said that these people may need more support from the council’s discretionary housing grant to fund the cost of living in these properties. This will require more money from the government to allow people to stay in their homes and ensure that adapted properties are being put to good use.
He has now written an open letter to the Secretaries of State for Communities and Local Government and the Department of Work and Pensions, Eric Pickles and Ian Duncan Smith respectively, to voice his concerns about the issue and is hoping that the government will either remove the bedroom tax or find other ways to help those who need adapted accommodation to live independently.
Image Credit: paul bevan (flickr.com)
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