Sunday, 3 March 2013

Bedroom Tax

Interesting debate at Corporate Policy and Strategy committee this week about the introduction of the Bedroom Tax from 1st April (the Tories don't like it being called the Bedroom Tax by the way, so that's that sorted then...). The Bedroom Tax will inevitably cause problems for individuals across Edinburgh, it is estimated that 6,500 Council and Housing Association tenants will be affected and face the threat of having their Housing Benefit reduced for the heinous crime of having an extra bedroom in their house. Complex rules mean many questions have still to be fully answered regarding people with disabilities, those who need carers to stay occasionally and grown children who may be serving in the forces. But it also presents risks to housing providers like the council and services that are funded after all by the rents that tenants pay. If the Council suffers a reduction in income through the Bedroom Tax that will have a knock effect to front line services and investment in housing. We also have to consider what we do when people inevitably run up arrears. As things currently stand the Council takes every possible precaution to avoid evicting tenants for rent arrears but it does happen unfortunately. Now, I really don't want the Council to find itself in court asking for eviction on the basis that an individual is in rent arrears and their only offence is to have had the goal posts moved on them by the ConDem government. Result of the committee debate ? We've asked for a report on the impact of a no eviction policy and what other mitigation measures we can consider. Watch this space.

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