Council bedroom tax plan

Coun Andrew Marchington.
Coun Andrew Marchington.

A Kirklees councillor has urged the council not to evict tenants trapped by ‘bedroom tax’.

Councillor Andrew Marchington (Lib Dem), has claimed that tenants are currently at risk of eviction even if they are willing to move house.

Protesters gathered outside Huddersfield magistrates court as two bedroom tax protesters appeared in court. d302e332

Protesters gathered outside Huddersfield magistrates court as two bedroom tax protesters appeared in court. d302e332

A motion will be put to a meeting of Kirklees councillors next week by the Liberal Democrats group that could stop the council evicting tenants affected by the bedroom tax who want to move but can’t due to a shortage of homes the right size.

Coun Marchington said: “The policy we are proposing would mean that any social tenant who says they want to move would be automatically protected from eviction and any arrears they build up while they wait for their new home.

“The lack of available social housing is not the fault of tenants, it is the fault of successive national governments over the last three decades to protect and replenish the housing stock.”

The motion has been signed by all Liberal Democrat councillors in Kirklees and will be put to the next cabinet meeting on Wednesday September 11.

The Kirklees Labour group said it will put forward a motion of its own that it hopes will help the council and social landlords to build thousands of affordable homes.

Coun Cathy Scott (Lab), cabinet member for housing, said: “It is important to recognise that this [bedroom tax] is a coalition government poverty trap to further disadvantage people throughout the country.”

“Their total disregard is evident when they are continuing to support the bankers and their six figure salaries.”

Kirklees Council stands to lose an extra £500,000 in rent arrears this year after the launch of the bedroom tax, according to Dave Bennett from Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing.

He told a Spen Valley Area Committee meeting last month that larger houses will stand empty because people will be unwilling to take up expensive larger properties.

He added: “It is a fairly serious situation in terms of the amount of debt in Kirklees.

“By the end of 12 months, we will have lost £500,000 in rent arrears because of the under-occupation charge.”

From April 1 this year, the government started to reduce the amount of housing benefit it pays to people under-occupying houses by one or more bedrooms.