‘Bedroom tax’ could hit 6,000 in Sheffield

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UP to 6,000 Sheffield households could be affected by the ‘bedroom tax’ – and council chiefs say there are not enough smaller homes if everyone chooses to downsize.

The ‘tax’ comes into force from April, and means households will receive housing benefit only according to the size of house they are deemed to need. The Government wants to encourage people in large homes to downsize to free-up housing for families.

But Stephen Rich, of Greenhill and Bradway TARA, said: “The bedroom tax is a disgrace. There are single people here who were recently given two-bed maisonettes on upper floors to allow families to have ground floor homes – what happens to them?

“Pensioners will also be affected, as well as people who have invested large amounts of money into their homes.”

Sheffield Council is setting up a hardship fund for tenants worth £250,000 for the next five years to help them cope with benefit changes. The authority is also providing £57,000 over three years to help tenants needing to move.

Coun Harry Harpham, cabinet member for housing, said: “The bedroom tax is a disregard for the most vulnerable in our society. We believe between 5,000 and 6,000 households could be affected.

“The money we are providing is a discretionary fund which could be used to help people such as disabled tenants who have had their house adapted but cannot find a suitable home to move into.

“But if all households affected choose to downsize we would not be able to accommodate them because there are not enough suitable homes.”