ASHFIELD: Petition calls for fairer bedroom tax

A Kirkby man has raised a 1,000 signature petition calling for a fairer bedroom tax policy.
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 30:  Protestors hold signs and wear masks as they demonstrate against the proposed "bedroom tax" gather in Trafalgar Square before marching to Downing Street on March 30, 2013 in London, England. Welfare groups are protesting the government's plans to cut benefits where families have surpassed the number of rooms they require. (Photo by Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images)LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 30:  Protestors hold signs and wear masks as they demonstrate against the proposed "bedroom tax" gather in Trafalgar Square before marching to Downing Street on March 30, 2013 in London, England. Welfare groups are protesting the government's plans to cut benefits where families have surpassed the number of rooms they require. (Photo by Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 30: Protestors hold signs and wear masks as they demonstrate against the proposed "bedroom tax" gather in Trafalgar Square before marching to Downing Street on March 30, 2013 in London, England. Welfare groups are protesting the government's plans to cut benefits where families have surpassed the number of rooms they require. (Photo by Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images)

The under occupation tax, also known as bedroom tax, means some council tenants will be forced to pay a spare room subsidy.

John Moore said he started his petition after being forced to move home as a direct result of the tax.

He was lucky in that he did an exchange with his stepdaughter who needed a larger property for her family.

He said: “This petition is calling on Ashfield District Council for a publicly stated no-evictions policy and for reclassification of all social properties as having only one bedroom, to prevent the tax being charged.

“The reason I started the petition was because I am directly affected, me and my wife were forced to move because we can’t afford the tax.

“But many people who have signed the petition are home owners and have not been affected. They signed it because they think it is an unfair policy.”

The changes to housing benefits came into force in April this year sparking controversy with many claiming it will hit vulnerable, low income families hardest.

“Many tenants I have spoken to have been in tears over what is happening and have been extremely worried,” Mr Moore added.

The paper-based petition will be presented to the council at committee in December where it is hoped councillors will debate the changes.

Mr Moore praised the council however for being socially minded when it comes to the bedroom tax.

Labour members passed a motion in August to set up a hardship fund to help council house tenants pat the tax.

Mr Moore added: “The council have had this policy forced upon them by central government and I know they have taken steps to try and help tenants.

“But I hope that they will adapt the no evictions policy.

“They have a statutory duty to house people if they are homeless. But that is what this policy is doing, forcing some people to be homeless.”

Coun Chris Baron, council leader, said he will gladly accept the petition at committee to debate, but he enforces that the council’s policy is prevention of eviction.

“We know this is an unfair policy and we have made arrangements so that the policy adapted in Ashfield is prevention from evictions.

“We have worked with credit unions and set up arrangements for people to down size so that they will not be affected by the tax. We also applied for £150,000 extra discretionary housing payment (DHP) so that people finding it difficult can cope.”

Tenants can apply for a DHP claim form from Ashfield District Council by contacting 01623 450 000.