Ashfield District Council to fight the ‘bedroom tax’

NMAC10-2465-1''Kirkby Ashfield District Council Offices
NMAC10-2465-1''Kirkby Ashfield District Council Offices

Councillors in Ashfield have agreed to write to the government in a bid to help tenants who are facing a cut in their housing benefit.

Labour members put forward a motion pledging to write to the Secretary of State for Departments and Communities asking for permission to set up a hardship fund to help council house tenants faced with having to pay a spare room subsidy.

Government bosses say the policy will free up larger properties for families who are currently living in over-crowded accommodation and it does not apply to disabled people who require a carer to stay overnight, pensioners, disabled children who cannot share a room, foster carers and members of the armed forced serving abroad.

But opponents have branded it a ‘bedroom tax’ and say that it will affect vulnerable, low income families the most.

At a full council meeting on Thursday, deputy council leader John Wilmott said: “A low income demands excellent budgeting skills which not everyone possesses.

“In addition, job losses, reduced hours and pay freezes means that people are pushed to their financial limit.”

Labour councillor David Shaw said: “I find it deplorable that we have to go to the Secretary of the State, cap in hand, to beg for the people of Ashfield.

“We have a government that shows no concern whatsoever for common people.”

And Coun Jim Aspinall said: “The whole premise of this act is to move people out of their homes into small accommodation.

“But there is just one problem - we don’t have any smaller properties to move them to and as a consequence, people are trapped, through no fault of their own, and they must pay a price.”

Councillors have also vowed to promote down-sizing and encourage credit unions to establish stronger links with tenants.