UPDATED: More than 4,500 Wirral residents caught up in Government's 'bedroom tax' changes (From Wirral Globe)
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UPDATED: More than 4,500 Wirral residents caught up in Government's 'bedroom tax' changes
More than 4,500 Wirral households are likely to be affected by controversial changes to housing benefit as part of the Government’s Welfare Reform Act.
The changes, which come into force in April, will mean people of working age who live in social housing deemed to be bigger than they need, will see their housing benefit reduced.
Residents likely to be affected by the national shake-up - spearheaded by works and pensions minister Iain Duncan Smith have already been sent a letter by the council explaining what this will mean to them.
The letters told residents about information the council currently held concerning their household and property and how their benefit was likely to be affected.
But Wirral Council leader Cllr Phil Davies said he is hoping the Government will re-think the controversial reforms and go back to the drawing board.
He said: “I think it’s a horrendous tax and it’s one of the worst pieces of legislation I have ever seen from any government. I worry that it’s going to hit the most vulnerable the hardest, lead to more evictions and therefore increase levels of homelessness.
“This is something that the Government need to re-think urgently.
“Here in Wirral, there is information available on the tax and who is affected via their social landlords and one-stop shops. But this is a Government policy so we are doing all we can to help out those affected with advice and support.”
Residents have been told what options they might want to consider to offset the effects of any reduction in benefit.
In some cases Wirral Council may be able to assist households with specific problems.
If you have one extra bedroom the amount of rent used to calculate your housing benefit will be reduced by 14%.
If you have two or more extra bedrooms, the amount of rent used to calculate your benefit will be reduced by 25%.
The Government says the idea behind the measure is to try to ensure social housing better meets the needs of residents.
If residents have not already contacted the local authority to seek advice on what the changes will mean for them, they are urged to do so at the earliest opportunity as the changes will take effect very shortly from April 2013.
More details can be found on the council website: http://www.wirral.gov.uk/my-services/advice-and-benefits/benefits/housing-and-council-tax-benefits/welfare-and-benefit-reforms-latest-updates
The change does not affect pensioners.