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Councillor puts increase down to introduction of controversial bedroom tax
3:10pm Wednesday 21st August 2013 in News
THE number of people applying for emergency payments to help meet rent demands has risen 300 per cent in the past year, new figures show.
A total of 288 applications were made to Worcester City Council by tenants on housing benefit between April and the beginning of July this year. The tenants can claim money from the Discretionary Housing Payments fund when they are struggling to pay their rent.
The figure is up from 70 applications during the same period last year, an increase of more than 300 per cent.
One councillor believes the controversial bedroom tax could be behind many of the applications. Last year, 50 of the 70 applications were approved, compared to this year, which has seen 208 of the 288 requests given the green light. The money is an emergency payment, funded by central government, which is made to those on housing benefit.
“I think it’s directly as a result of the government cuts,” said city councillor Roger Berry, portfolio holder for Safer and Stronger Communities.
“I think the bedroom tax is beginning to bite now. “If you had a 14 per cent reduction in your income when you are on housing benefit, then it’s a big drop.”
In April this year, housing benefit dropped by 14 per cent for residents with a spare bedroom. The reduction rises to 25 per cent if there are two or more rooms to spare.
“The Discretionary Housing Payments are a short-term use for people to get out of a hole,” added Coun Berry.
“The problem is the Government is making massive cutbacks all at once. “It is symptomatic of the welfare cutbacks.”
Coun Berry said he thought claimant figures in the coming months could show similar results. He said: “It [the rise] is significant, but we are seeing increases in other local authorities too.”
There was also a large rise in Wychavon during the same period with a total of 36 applications, 23 successful, made between April and the beginning of July last year, compared with 167 applications, 102 successful, this year.
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