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Working hard to help Wirral residents affected by 'bedroom tax'
11:26am Friday 19th October 2012 in Letters
IN response to the letter 'Bedroom tax is making me even more ill' (Letters October 9), I would like to clarify some of the points raised.
The changes to the welfare benefit system are Government policy, not changes instigated by Wirral Partnership Homes or any other registered housing provider.
We do not have any control over changes to Welfare Benefits. We are, however, working hard to make sure that all residents affected understand these changes.
We are seriously concerned about the impact that the Welfare Reform will have on our tenants in receipt of benefits.
Over 2,000 WPH tenants will be affected by what is known as the "Spare Bedrooms Tax" and the reduction in income to those tenants over the next three years will be around £4.5 million.
If tenants affected by the 'bedroom tax' cannot or will not move to smaller accommodation, the Government expects them to pay the difference between their reduced Housing Benefit and their rent.
Your correspondent S Davis makes a valid point that WPH (and other social housing landlords on Wirral) do not have enough smaller properties for those affected.
All those in receipt of benefit need to bear in mind that the charge for any spare bedroom is only one of many changes to welfare benefits that will be implemented by the Government and we have estimated that over 5000 WPH tenants are likely to be affected.
Ms Davis states that WPH are offering to sell her home to her with a £75,000 reduction.
In actual fact, all tenants who were previously Wirral Borough Council tenants have the 'right to buy' their home through a scheme which was introduced over 30 years ago.
The Government has recently increased the size of discounts allowed and all relevant housing providers have been asked to publicise these changes to their tenants.
WPH has no choice about this and the amount of money it raises is not sufficient for WPH to build a new home to replace the one sold.
Our tenants face some very severe challenges as a consequence of the welfare reforms and in turn, this will have an impact on WPH.
Demand for some property types will fall and demand for other types will increase way beyond WPH’s ability to provide them.
It is inevitable that the financial difficulty that many of our tenants will face will result in higher income collection costs and reduced income for WPH.
We understand why Ms Davis is concerned about these measures but I would like to reassure all our tenants that we are doing everything we can to raise awareness of the Government's changes.
If any WPH tenants would like advice, they can call our dedicated Welfare Benefit Reform Team on (0151) 666 7001 or visit the WPH website at www.wphomes.org.uk where there is further advice and an on-line bedroom tax calculator to help you work out whether you will be affected.
Assistant director of housing, Wirral Partnership Homes