The move follows the introduction in April of the so-called ‘bedroom tax’. Council or housing association tenants thought to have too many too many rooms in their homes had their housing benefit cut – by 14 per cent for single rooms and by 25 per cent for two or more rooms.
According to The Guardian, around 660,000 people have been affected by the ‘bedroom tax’ losing an average of £14 per week. Approximately 86,000 households have been forced to look for new single bedroom homes.
Leeds Council has now reclassified 837 underused small or ground floor bedrooms in the city. Labour Councillor Peter Gruen insists that it would cost the local authority more to evict and rehome struggling tenants than they would gain from the cuts.
He told The Guardian he hoped other councils would make similar changes:
“The idea of taxing poor people for bedroom tax is perverse. The charges we incur in legal fees chasing up the increasing rent arrears from the last two months is farcical. It costs the courts far more money to evict people.”
But rival Conservative councillor Barry Anderson sounded a note of caution:
“The government implemented this for a reason …..There needs to more advice for people on housing benefits… hardworking, good tenants may lose out.”
Photo of Leeds by andrew_roberts_UK via Wikipedia under a Creative Commons licence