Bedroom tax will hit families on benefits

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Mel Gaskin and her son Jacob will lose out because of the new bedroom tax Mel Gaskin and her son Jacob will lose out because of the new bedroom tax

A SHORT supply of homes in rural Cotswolds could force thousands of families on benefits to lose £780 a year on average because of a new "bedroom tax".

From next April, working-aged people living in homes with more bedrooms than they need will have to downsize or see deductions of up to 25 per cent in their housing benefit.

The Government initiative called the Housing Needs Assessment will aim to save around £500million, free-up larger properties for those living in overcrowded homes and create work incentives for people who live off housing benefits.

An estimated 30,000 households will be affected in the South West, with an average reduction of £15 a week.

But in rural Cotswolds, where houses are limited, many say they will not have the luxury of being able to downsize locally.

Single mum Mel Gaskin lives with her five-year-old son Jacob in a three bedroom house in Cirencester, is set to lose 14 per cent of her benefits. She said the wrong people were being targeted by the scheme and it should look instead at the large number of over-60s living alone in three-bedroom homes.

"There are people who have this attitude 'but I've lived there for 20 years' but I don't think they realise the affect, the widespread need for larger houses," she said.

Under the changes, any adult or couple under the age of 60 will only be entitled to one bedroom.

Children under the age of ten will be required to share a room with one other child of any gender and children under the age of 15 will be required to share a room with one other child of the same gender.

No extra bedrooms will be allowed for foster children or those who stay with parents as part of shared access arrangements.

On average, one unoccupied bedroom will cost householders 14 per cent of their benefits, and two or more unoccupied bedrooms will set householders back 25 per cent.

Social housing landlord Bromford Housing is currently working with Cotswold District Council to find out the extent of the problem in the Gloucestershire region.

Wiltshire Council’s most recent figures indicate that of 30,000 homes in receipt of housing benefits, around 2,893 will be affected by the new rules, with 437 of those by two or more bedrooms.

A report by the Department for Work and Pensions, updated in June 2012, admits that those in rural areas will be hardest hit because of the shortage of available properties.

However, it states that action is needed because Government expenditure has nearly doubled over the past decade, from £11billion to £21billion in the last financial year.

Darrin Gamble, head of neighbourhoods at Bromford Housing, said: "In some circumstances we have wanted to offer families choice to have the room to grow and create sustainable communities but times have changed."

Speaking at a Chesterton Community Project meeting last week, Bromford Housing representative Simon Taylor said people would be caught out by "severe penalties" if they did not act quickly.

"Some people are burying their heads in the sand, which will make it difficult to move in time," he said. "I don't think you will find anyone in social housing who supports this policy, but it is not up to us."

For more information on the changes go to bromford.co.uk for details.

Comments (18)

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2:53am Wed 17 Oct 12

David Broad says...

Burying their heads in the sand eh Simon Taylor, Well el me this.
How can people downsize to two bedroom properties when there are none in a five mile radius of their home.
These are people not battery chickens.
These are their homes, its bad enough being made redundant without someone telling you you have to move to a smaller house because you have a spare bedroom.
I guess it is Bromford who have their heads buried in the sand,
Burying their heads in the sand eh Simon Taylor, Well el me this. How can people downsize to two bedroom properties when there are none in a five mile radius of their home. These are people not battery chickens. These are their homes, its bad enough being made redundant without someone telling you you have to move to a smaller house because you have a spare bedroom. I guess it is Bromford who have their heads buried in the sand, David Broad
  • Score: 0

5:17am Wed 17 Oct 12

Supreme Chancellor Finis Valorum says...

I suggest these people whinging should do what I have had to do all my life ...... work, earn money, buy a property, save, work, work .... etc etc.
I suggest these people whinging should do what I have had to do all my life ...... work, earn money, buy a property, save, work, work .... etc etc. Supreme Chancellor Finis Valorum
  • Score: 0

10:30am Wed 17 Oct 12

toryboy5 says...

It is not a god given right to be given a house to live in, many people in private housing have 2 bedroom homes and 2 children because they can't afford anything else but they don't moan. The Supreme Chancellor has the right idea.
It is not a god given right to be given a house to live in, many people in private housing have 2 bedroom homes and 2 children because they can't afford anything else but they don't moan. The Supreme Chancellor has the right idea. toryboy5
  • Score: 0

12:26pm Wed 17 Oct 12

David Broad says...

Lucky you Supreme Chancellor.
You obviously live in the sort of world I dream of, leave school get a job, fall in love get a house, get married, have kids, like my dad did but that was 1955.
The cheap private sector place to rent or buy is a distant memory, you need about three kids before you can get a Bromford 3 bed house now, 1955 you just had to get married to get one.
Not every jobless person chooses to be unemployed, plenty do admittedly,
Toryboy5 (shouldn't that be BNP boy?)
has a good point, there is no way for overcrowded 2 bedroom owner occupied mortgaged property dwellers to get a Bromford 3 bed property,
Work hard be worse off. The rules need tweaking, Bromford need more 2 bed properties, not rocket science but clearly beyond Bromfords battery hen based policies to lobby to be allowed to do a buy and let deal.
Lucky you Supreme Chancellor. You obviously live in the sort of world I dream of, leave school get a job, fall in love get a house, get married, have kids, like my dad did but that was 1955. The cheap private sector place to rent or buy is a distant memory, you need about three kids before you can get a Bromford 3 bed house now, 1955 you just had to get married to get one. Not every jobless person chooses to be unemployed, plenty do admittedly, Toryboy5 (shouldn't that be BNP boy?) has a good point, there is no way for overcrowded 2 bedroom owner occupied mortgaged property dwellers to get a Bromford 3 bed property, Work hard be worse off. The rules need tweaking, Bromford need more 2 bed properties, not rocket science but clearly beyond Bromfords battery hen based policies to lobby to be allowed to do a buy and let deal. David Broad
  • Score: 0

12:46pm Wed 17 Oct 12

Supreme Chancellor Finis Valorum says...

Actually Councilor Broad, you are not far off. ..but in this life you make your own luck.

7 years of higher education, after my 5 years of secondary education, (no, not university), gave me the sound footing to make myself and my family a comfortable life.

Everybody has the chance of an education. Its up to them if they wish to make the most of the opportunity or waste their life.

What I cannot abide is the moaning of the masses who have made their bed ……….. and whine as soon as things go wrong.
Actually Councilor Broad, you are not far off. ..but in this life you make your own luck. 7 years of higher education, after my 5 years of secondary education, (no, not university), gave me the sound footing to make myself and my family a comfortable life. Everybody has the chance of an education. Its up to them if they wish to make the most of the opportunity or waste their life. What I cannot abide is the moaning of the masses who have made their bed ……….. and whine as soon as things go wrong. Supreme Chancellor Finis Valorum
  • Score: 0

2:47pm Wed 17 Oct 12

Jessica Rabbit says...

I agree with the Supreme Chancellor... and as for Mr Broads remark that a job, love, marriage and home is a dream to most, that is crazy! All are within reach, unfortunately some people always want more and don't appreciate what they have.

Many of the people in social housing (not all of them) choose the lifestyle they live. Many do not work but are still able to buy 50" LCD TV's, playstations, cigarettes, sky TV and alcohol with their benefit money... So... Is it going to be that hard for them to pay a bit more in rent for their spare room?

I do understand that not not everyone in social housing and living on benefits is doing so by choice... These people may through no fault of their own have ended up in a situation that they never expected. But yes... I still think that if you have a spare room, you need to pay for it... It's a way of giving back to society... The same society who is allowing you to live for free.
I agree with the Supreme Chancellor... and as for Mr Broads remark that a job, love, marriage and home is a dream to most, that is crazy! All are within reach, unfortunately some people always want more and don't appreciate what they have. Many of the people in social housing (not all of them) choose the lifestyle they live. Many do not work but are still able to buy 50" LCD TV's, playstations, cigarettes, sky TV and alcohol with their benefit money... So... Is it going to be that hard for them to pay a bit more in rent for their spare room? I do understand that not not everyone in social housing and living on benefits is doing so by choice... These people may through no fault of their own have ended up in a situation that they never expected. But yes... I still think that if you have a spare room, you need to pay for it... It's a way of giving back to society... The same society who is allowing you to live for free. Jessica Rabbit
  • Score: 0

5:24pm Wed 17 Oct 12

toryboy5 says...

@ David Broad - How do my comments represent anything to do with the BNP? Maybe you should read what the BNP stand for before coming out with such utter c**p.

I think you will find the party you represent share the same values as myself to work hard and strive to be the best you can, if you get knocked down on the way, the system is there to help you back up but it is not there to be used and abused like so many people do.
There are people in this District that have screwed the system for years, it is the minority that ruin it for the ones that really need it, the ones who have lost jobs through the recession or have to care for dependents etc.
@ David Broad - How do my comments represent anything to do with the BNP? Maybe you should read what the BNP stand for before coming out with such utter c**p. I think you will find the party you represent share the same values as myself to work hard and strive to be the best you can, if you get knocked down on the way, the system is there to help you back up but it is not there to be used and abused like so many people do. There are people in this District that have screwed the system for years, it is the minority that ruin it for the ones that really need it, the ones who have lost jobs through the recession or have to care for dependents etc. toryboy5
  • Score: 0

2:08pm Thu 18 Oct 12

delta42 says...

I know a couple who are now retired having worked all their lives and live in a bromford controlled house and were recently told that if they wanted to downsize they wouldn't get a retirement bungalow they would have to go into a nursing home, this was actually said to them. My question is why should this couple give up their home of many years to allow it to be given to a family most likely arriving here from eastern europe or another migrant nation who has never paid taxes yet feel that our government owes them a free ride?
I know a couple who are now retired having worked all their lives and live in a bromford controlled house and were recently told that if they wanted to downsize they wouldn't get a retirement bungalow they would have to go into a nursing home, this was actually said to them. My question is why should this couple give up their home of many years to allow it to be given to a family most likely arriving here from eastern europe or another migrant nation who has never paid taxes yet feel that our government owes them a free ride? delta42
  • Score: 0

8:00am Fri 19 Oct 12

bobirving says...

@Supreme Chancellor - My higher education etc did not stop the companies I worked for shipping my job off abroad twice, leaving me out of work in my fifties, so becoming unemployed can happen to anyone in the current climate.
Who are all these people who live in "social housing (not all of them) choose the lifestyle they live. Many do not work but are still able to buy 50" LCD TV's, playstations, cigarettes, sky TV and alcohol with their benefit money... " Do you actually know them? Or did someone down the pub tell you about a bloke who knew... Just because you read it in the Daily Fail or the Sun does not mean that it's true, you know.
@Supreme Chancellor - My higher education etc did not stop the companies I worked for shipping my job off abroad twice, leaving me out of work in my fifties, so becoming unemployed can happen to anyone in the current climate. Who are all these people who live in "social housing (not all of them) choose the lifestyle they live. Many do not work but are still able to buy 50" LCD TV's, playstations, cigarettes, sky TV and alcohol with their benefit money... " Do you actually know them? Or did someone down the pub tell you about a bloke who knew... Just because you read it in the Daily Fail or the Sun does not mean that it's true, you know. bobirving
  • Score: 0

4:07pm Fri 19 Oct 12

JGH says...

I'd like to live in a four bedroom house but I can't afford it, why is it so difficult that when people who for whatever reason find themselves on benefits and are asked like me to live within their means they are suddenly portrayed as some sort of victim? Who is the victim if there are a family of five stuck in a two bedroom whilst Ms Gaskin 'lords it' as one of two people living in a three bedroom house? It's all about efficiency, getting the best result from the resources available, everybody else has to do it.
If money is so hard to come-by can I suggest she stops wasting money on tattoos and uses it to put a roof over her child and food on the table. Choices, we all have them, some quite frankly do not take a degree to make.
I'd like to live in a four bedroom house but I can't afford it, why is it so difficult that when people who for whatever reason find themselves on benefits and are asked like me to live within their means they are suddenly portrayed as some sort of victim? Who is the victim if there are a family of five stuck in a two bedroom whilst Ms Gaskin 'lords it' as one of two people living in a three bedroom house? It's all about efficiency, getting the best result from the resources available, everybody else has to do it. If money is so hard to come-by can I suggest she stops wasting money on tattoos and uses it to put a roof over her child and food on the table. Choices, we all have them, some quite frankly do not take a degree to make. JGH
  • Score: 0

4:27pm Fri 19 Oct 12

819807 says...

Fair point JGH, can't say I disagree with a word of it.
Disappointing that the housing assoc has imposed an age restriction on the who the rules do and do not apply to, have they not heard of age discrimination?
This is all about minimising wasteage or as my old metalwork teacher used to say 'the right tool for the right job'.
People must stop portraying themselves as victims in some sort of race to the bottom, it can put an indelible print left on those around you.
Fair point JGH, can't say I disagree with a word of it. Disappointing that the housing assoc has imposed an age restriction on the who the rules do and do not apply to, have they not heard of age discrimination? This is all about minimising wasteage or as my old metalwork teacher used to say 'the right tool for the right job'. People must stop portraying themselves as victims in some sort of race to the bottom, it can put an indelible print left on those around you. 819807
  • Score: 0

9:49am Sun 21 Oct 12

Council Taxpayer says...

I never thought I would be leaping to the support of a leading member of the Tory group at CDC but Cllr Broad obviously has a social conscience and is dealing with the reality of the dilemma posed by this ill-conceived government policy.
The points he makes are valid and it would be grossly unfair to penalise hard-pressed families on the basis of a bedroom check on their homes when no realistic alternative is available.
If Cllr Broad could persuade his colleagues at CDC to abandon the council's disastrous policy of promoting countless luxury lakeside holiday homes for the rich over the affordable housing needs of the masses, maybe we might start to tackle the shocking housing shortage in the district.
Top marks to Cllr Broad for standing up to the right-wing prejudices of the toffs who obviously have no idea of what it is like to struggle on low income to bring up a family.
Is he in the right party though?
I never thought I would be leaping to the support of a leading member of the Tory group at CDC but Cllr Broad obviously has a social conscience and is dealing with the reality of the dilemma posed by this ill-conceived government policy. The points he makes are valid and it would be grossly unfair to penalise hard-pressed families on the basis of a bedroom check on their homes when no realistic alternative is available. If Cllr Broad could persuade his colleagues at CDC to abandon the council's disastrous policy of promoting countless luxury lakeside holiday homes for the rich over the affordable housing needs of the masses, maybe we might start to tackle the shocking housing shortage in the district. Top marks to Cllr Broad for standing up to the right-wing prejudices of the toffs who obviously have no idea of what it is like to struggle on low income to bring up a family. Is he in the right party though? Council Taxpayer
  • Score: 0

4:23pm Sun 21 Oct 12

Smythe says...

My goodness, whatever next? Olly Cromwell as chairman of CHAT?
.
.
.
.
.
Cotswold Hug A Tory
My goodness, whatever next? Olly Cromwell as chairman of CHAT? . . . . . Cotswold Hug A Tory Smythe
  • Score: 0

1:36pm Mon 22 Oct 12

Susie Clark says...

Good same old, same old CTP - never fails to bring in the Water Park to any discussion, whatever the subject. If his Lib Dem party are so concerned about affordable housing, why were his two Water Park colleagues opposed to the developments at South Cerney and Siddington, both of which will provide much needed lower cost housing . Once again, Lib Dem sound bites don't match the reality.
Good same old, same old CTP - never fails to bring in the Water Park to any discussion, whatever the subject. If his Lib Dem party are so concerned about affordable housing, why were his two Water Park colleagues opposed to the developments at South Cerney and Siddington, both of which will provide much needed lower cost housing . Once again, Lib Dem sound bites don't match the reality. Susie Clark
  • Score: 0

3:26pm Mon 22 Oct 12

Robert Jeanes says...

And, Susie's 'raison d'être' gets another airing.......
And, Susie's 'raison d'être' gets another airing....... Robert Jeanes
  • Score: 0

9:27am Tue 23 Oct 12

Council Taxpayer says...

As usual, Susie Clark is so way off the mark that she assumes anyone who even slightly criticises Tory policy is a Liberal Democrat. I am not.
I therefore do not have any "Liberal Democrat colleagues" as she suggests but I am critical of CDC's policy in the Water Park because it has been an unmitigated disaster which has done nothing for local residents but has lined the pockets of greedy developers and crooks.
You don't have to be a Liberal Democrat to see how mismanagement of huge tracts of brownfield land that could have been used for decent homes instead of holiday pads for rhe well-heeled has created the Cotswold housing crisis.
As usual, Susie Clark is so way off the mark that she assumes anyone who even slightly criticises Tory policy is a Liberal Democrat. I am not. I therefore do not have any "Liberal Democrat colleagues" as she suggests but I am critical of CDC's policy in the Water Park because it has been an unmitigated disaster which has done nothing for local residents but has lined the pockets of greedy developers and crooks. You don't have to be a Liberal Democrat to see how mismanagement of huge tracts of brownfield land that could have been used for decent homes instead of holiday pads for rhe well-heeled has created the Cotswold housing crisis. Council Taxpayer
  • Score: 0

12:26pm Tue 23 Oct 12

Susie Clark says...

Just to set the record straight ,CTP, I think you'll find that the decision to regenerate the Water Park as a holiday complex was taken , not by a Conservative administration, but when CDC was controlled by a mix of independents and Lib Dems.And do you really think that this created the housing shortage in the whole of the Cotswolds ? It doesn't seem to have stopped Kingsmeadow or Bourton or any of the other developments I read about, so why should it impede any of the others ? I'd be intruiged to read your answers.
Just to set the record straight ,CTP, I think you'll find that the decision to regenerate the Water Park as a holiday complex was taken , not by a Conservative administration, but when CDC was controlled by a mix of independents and Lib Dems.And do you really think that this created the housing shortage in the whole of the Cotswolds ? It doesn't seem to have stopped Kingsmeadow or Bourton or any of the other developments I read about, so why should it impede any of the others ? I'd be intruiged to read your answers. Susie Clark
  • Score: 0

11:58am Wed 24 Oct 12

Council Taxpayer says...

As usual, Susie has completely missed the point by trying to turn this into a party political debate.
For twenty years - I have little interest in who was in power at any particular time - CDC has squandered a golden opportunity in the Water Park by concentrating on holiday home development to the exclusion of everything else.
All the eggs were put into one basket as the council embraced the holiday home developers - on occasions a bit too eagerly - and quickly lost the plot.
The original little log cabins that could genuinely be classed as weekend retreats soon became grander and more costly until the most recent examples have grown into lakeside palaces of up to 6,500 square feet costing millions.
This whole enterprise has lined the pockets of developers and, we now know, a handful of crooks but has not resulted in the pomised prosperity and job creation.
It is true that some jobs have been created. In fact I recently met a car load of these new employes on their way to clean the homes of wealthy weekenders on a gated lakeside development in South Cerney. All were Eastern European and only one of them could speak any English at all and had to translate for her colleagues.
Because these properties are, in every material respect, luxury, modern, well insulated homes that are, in many cases, superior to the local housing stock, the planning conditions governing holiday occupancy have proved impossible to enforce.
CDC got itself into an awful mess trying, wasted a fortune on legal advice and a pubic inquiry and now appears to have kicked the whole affair into the long grass because it is all proving too messy.
My point is that the Water Park provided a unique opportunity for the creation of new businesses combined with a mix of genuine housing and holiday homes. Instead it was all handed over to the holiday home developers while conman Dennis Grant and his partner-in-crime Nick Hanson were put in charge of the the umbrella organisation charged with planning the future of the park. Grant's so-called "Masteplan" shames all who are associated with it and, yet, the new Water Park Trust clings to it while the author languishes in his jail cell.
Of course, it all comes down to the profit of the few with the connivance of various greedy individuals who, the residents of the Water Park now fervently hope, will soon have their collars felt by the investigating team from the City of London Police and will then be packed off to keep Dennis company.
I accept that the development of the Water Park did not directly cause the acute housing crisis in the Cotswolds but it could certainly have helped alleviate it, with a little bit of imagination and drive from our elected representatives.
As usual, Susie has completely missed the point by trying to turn this into a party political debate. For twenty years - I have little interest in who was in power at any particular time - CDC has squandered a golden opportunity in the Water Park by concentrating on holiday home development to the exclusion of everything else. All the eggs were put into one basket as the council embraced the holiday home developers - on occasions a bit too eagerly - and quickly lost the plot. The original little log cabins that could genuinely be classed as weekend retreats soon became grander and more costly until the most recent examples have grown into lakeside palaces of up to 6,500 square feet costing millions. This whole enterprise has lined the pockets of developers and, we now know, a handful of crooks but has not resulted in the pomised prosperity and job creation. It is true that some jobs have been created. In fact I recently met a car load of these new employes on their way to clean the homes of wealthy weekenders on a gated lakeside development in South Cerney. All were Eastern European and only one of them could speak any English at all and had to translate for her colleagues. Because these properties are, in every material respect, luxury, modern, well insulated homes that are, in many cases, superior to the local housing stock, the planning conditions governing holiday occupancy have proved impossible to enforce. CDC got itself into an awful mess trying, wasted a fortune on legal advice and a pubic inquiry and now appears to have kicked the whole affair into the long grass because it is all proving too messy. My point is that the Water Park provided a unique opportunity for the creation of new businesses combined with a mix of genuine housing and holiday homes. Instead it was all handed over to the holiday home developers while conman Dennis Grant and his partner-in-crime Nick Hanson were put in charge of the the umbrella organisation charged with planning the future of the park. Grant's so-called "Masteplan" shames all who are associated with it and, yet, the new Water Park Trust clings to it while the author languishes in his jail cell. Of course, it all comes down to the profit of the few with the connivance of various greedy individuals who, the residents of the Water Park now fervently hope, will soon have their collars felt by the investigating team from the City of London Police and will then be packed off to keep Dennis company. I accept that the development of the Water Park did not directly cause the acute housing crisis in the Cotswolds but it could certainly have helped alleviate it, with a little bit of imagination and drive from our elected representatives. Council Taxpayer
  • Score: 0

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