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Bedroom tax: Tories under fire for 'not caring'
COUNCIL chiefs have insisted they do care about their former tenants after Labour launched a scathing attack over the so called bedroom tax.
Councillor Ian Bates, Leader of the Labour Group at Wycombe District Council, lambasted the Conservative controlled authority, saying they were not interested in the plight of those in ex-council homes.
The council sold its 6,700 houses across the district to Red Kite Community Housing in December 2011.
Since April, the Government's welfare reforms have kicked in - including what opponents call the bedroom tax.
Under the spare room subsidy, as Ministers call it, social housing tenants now lose out on 14 per cent of their housing benefit under the new system if they have one unoccupied bedroom or 25 per cent if they have two.
Wycombe Labour accused the council of complacency and ignorance about its impact on tenants.
Cllr Bates said: "WDC is incompetent and uncaring. The Tories don't know the impact of the bedroom tax on tenants in Wycombe and they don't want to know.
"These tenants include the most vulnerable people in Wycombe including single mothers and people with disabilities.
"They are already struggling to cope and now face the bedroom tax. "
He was unhappy that at a meeting last month Cllr Gibbs, the Cabinet Member responsible for housing, said it was too early to assess.
Other councils have produced detailed figures, alongside housing associations, he said.
He said: "Why doesn’t WDC have the same sort of information for Wycombe...because it doesn’t care - and it doesn’t want the answers."
WDC spokesman Catherine Spalton said: "The council absolutely cares and we have been working with registered providers about the impact of welfare reform since they were announced.
"Training has been provided and attended and discussions have been had with registered providers, including Red Kite, Bucks County Council and both the housing and benefits teams internally to attempt to mitigate the effects of the reforms.
"Based on housing benefit applications, we understand that 693 households face a deduction of their entitlement to housing benefit as a result of the change.
"568 households face a 14 per cent reduction for having one spare bedroom and 125 face a 25 per cent deduction for having two or more spare rooms as per the national criteria.
"Our benefits team wrote directly to affected customers in February, explaining the situation and giving details of the additional support available in the form of Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) to those facing extreme financial hardship."
Registered providers including Red Kite and other registered providers operating in the district, have been working hard to inform tenants of the options available to them, she added.
If you are an affected Red Kite tenant and need more information call 01494 476100 or go to http://redkitehousing.org.uk/do-you-have-a-spare-bedroom
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