Deep impact of ‘bedroom tax’ for Sheffield homes

Coun Mazher Iqbal, Sheffield Council cabinet member for communities.
Coun Mazher Iqbal, Sheffield Council cabinet member for communities.
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Hundreds of families have been forced out of their homes by the ‘bedroom tax’ – and city leaders fear more will follow.

A shocking new report has revealed 4,120 households across Sheffield have had housing benefit reduced after rules were changed last April.

Eighty-five per cent of people said to have one bedroom too many have lost £10.21 per week, while the other 15 per cent with two or more bedrooms too many have had benefit cut by an average of £19.21 per week.

Since then, the council has had to move 336 tenants struggling to make ends meet to smaller properties.

Others are drowning in debt – with more than 2,000 falling into arrears.

They believe the current cost-of-living crisis for families in Sheffield is likely to escalate when Universal Credit replaces the old benefits system later this year.

Coun Mazher Iqbal, cabinet member for communities, said: “This shows the chilling effect of welfare changes on the unemployed, low-paid families, younger and older people and people with disabilities and mental health issues.

“The bedroom tax, housing benefit, working tax credits and sanctions have all had a significant impact which has put the council and its partners under greater strain as we work together to lessen the impact.

“There are clearly hidden costs which are just piling up greater problems for the future.

“It is scary for people caught up in this, but as a council we are working to do all we can to help them.”

Disabled Michael Kerrigan, aged 59, and his wife and full-time carer Tracy, 56, have been struggling to cope after losing £18.50 per week.

Tracy, of Firth Park, said: “Some weeks it’s terrifying. You find yourself weighing up whether to put the heating on or cut down on food.

“I don’t want to have to move out of my home. My family, my support network is in Firth Park. My daughter has downsized but where am I going to find somewhere with one bedroom? ”