‘It’s a very blunt instrument’

While there is good news for Glendale, another housing crisis is looming on the near horizon. The so-called bedroom tax, which will see residents’ housing benefit cut if they have a spare bedroom, comes into effect in April and concerns were raised by a councillor on Tuesday as part of budget discussions.

The meeting heard that it could affect around 3,500 people in the county, while 800 of these will be hit by the higher rate for two or more spare bedrooms.

Part of the Government’s Welfare Reform Act, the under-occupation penalty will see 14 per cent of benefit taken away from people with one extra room and 25 per cent for those with two or more.

Coun Andrew Tebbutt, executive member for corporate resources warned that for many years, not many one-bedroom properties were built in the county because there was little demand, but from April there may well be people looking for them.

He said that the Government would have been better off saying that people could have one spare bedroom.

Council leader Jeff Reid explained that it wasn’t a tax, but set out his position very clearly saying that housing benefit ends up ‘lining the pockets of landlords who then go and live in the Bahamas’.

“The Government has a big problem with the huge amount of housing benefit it gives out,” he said. “The benefit that’s given out is given to landlords in one way or another. Why should the Government line the pockets of landlords who charge too much for the space people use? It’s a very blunt instrument but the Government has to grip the nettle it has created in rents.

“We have got to live with it. We have developed a plan which limits the damage to the people of Northumberland.”