'Poor will be hit' by unpopular changes to housing benefits
A CUT in his housing benefit due to the so-called "bedroom tax" will be a tough blow for St Ann's resident Reg Needham.
Coupled with the responsibility of caring for his mother Mavis, who is suffering from dementia, 53-year-old Mr Needham fears for the future.
The pair live in a three-bedroom house in Robin Hood Chase – although he says the third bedroom is very small – and will lose out when his housing benefit is cut in two weeks' time.
He said: "I'm worried about how I will cope – I don't live beyond my means at all, but this means I'll have to cut back on things that people think of as necessary.
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"I don't think it will be long before my mum will have to go into a home and I'll have the worry of that as well as having a quarter of my housing benefit cut.
"The waiting lists for houses are months and months long and, in the meantime, people like me will have no choice but to pay out."
The figures back Mr Needham's claim up. More than 5,000 households in Nottingham will lose a portion of their housing benefit for being under-occupied, but only 35 one and two bedroom houses are available.
The situation is similar in the county: An estimated 1,675 households will be affected in the boroughs of Broxtowe, Gedling and Rushcliffe, but only 22 one and two-bedroom properties are listed as available on website Homesearch. Chris Shannon, an advisor at the St Ann's Advice Centre, said people in the area were frightened about the changes.
He added: "We're usually busy, but recently we have been busier than I can remember it being for a long time.
"These changes will cause chaos in society and I don't think I'm exaggerating there.
"People will fall into rent arrears, possibly get evicted and what will happen then?"
Dave Liversidge, portfolio holder for housing, adults and community sector at the city council, said: "In Nottingham, it's clear that there are few if any one or two-bedroomed properties available in the social housing sector.
"This means people who fall foul of the bedroom tax don't have the option suggested by the Government of moving elsewhere – unless they are in the unlikely position of being able to afford to go into the more expensive private rented sector."
The changes to housing benefit will only affect those who live in council or housing association homes.
People living in the private sector have not been able to get their full housing benefit if they have any spare rooms for some time.
And pensioners, families with severely disabled children, foster parents and service personnel will be exempt from the changes.
It has been called a bedroom tax because people will lose money if they have spare bedrooms.
The changes will see housing benefit cut by 14 per cent if properties are under-occupied by one room and 25 per cent if they are under-occupied by two rooms.
Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith said: "There's nothing fair about making families wait and wait for a house that is big enough, while other households on benefits are allowed to live in homes that are too big for their needs, at no extra cost. Many working families in Nottingham cannot afford the luxury of having spare bedrooms, and the Government cannot afford to pay for bedrooms that are not being used."