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Labour attacks housing association over bedroom tax hit tenants
A HOUSING association has come under fire for not telling councillors information about tenants affected by the so called 'bedroom tax'.
Red Kite Community Housing has been criticised by Wycombe Labour.
The party said it was shocked that officials were withholding how many Red Kite tenants were in arrears with their rent – branding it 'irresponsible'.
Labour estimates there are 700 tenants in Wycombe affected by the loss of housing benefits – a policy called the spare room subsidy by the Government. It said 400 of these are Red Kite tenants.
Councillor Ian Bates, Labour leader at Wycombe District Council, said: “The council needs to know how many tenants are struggling because the council is responsible for providing emergency payments.
“The money the council gets from the Government for this will nowhere near cover the bedroom tax but we need to do what we can and plan the support we can give."
Affected tenants have lost out on 14 per cent of their housing benefit if they are deemed to have one unoccupied bedroom or 25 per cent for two.
Cllr Bates said: “The council will also have to provide emergency housing when tenants become homeless because of the bedroom tax. Emergency housing in the private sector will cost the council a lot more money than housing benefits to Red Kite tenants. The council needs to plan for this too.
“Red Kite should be co-operating with the Council to help its tenants. Withholding this information is just irresponsible”.
Zosia Katnik, spokesman for Red Kite, which bought Wycombe's 6,700 council homes in December 2011, said: “Since the announcement of the controversial bedroom tax, we have been working hard with our tenants, the council and other agencies to offer as much help and support as possible to reduce its negative aspects on tenants.
“Red Kite’s responsibility is, and always will be, to help our tenants and make sure they know what their options are to manage their rent accounts and have a sustainable and affordable home. We have developed our own incentive scheme for those who are affected by the Government’s changes and will continue to share any relevant information where it will benefit our customers.”
A 'speed dating' event will be held to match tenants with those who have homes of a more suitable size so they can downsize if they need to. Red Kite also assists tenants to make claims for Discretionary Housing Payment.
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