HOUSING reps from Hartlepool joined others from across the region in a rallying call to fight back against the Government’s controversial new bedroom tax.
Fifteen housing providers, including Housing Hartlepool, represented more than 100,000 social housing tenants at a welfare reform bedroom tax summit at Wynyard Rooms, in Wynyard Park, yesterday.
Members of the various tenant consultation panels discovered more about the ins and outs of the new legislation, which is being introduced in April.
Housing Hartlepool representatives will now share that information with the thousands of residents in town who are set to be hit by the new Government tax.
One Housing Hartlepool representative said the prospect of having to pay the tax is making tenants “depressed and ill”.
Liz Torley, 56, who lives on the Central Estate and is a member of Housing Hartlepool’s tenant consultation panel, said: “It’s just one blow after another and more for residents to think about.
“On the Central Estate we have people in three bedroom houses wanting to move out because they won’t be able to afford them but there are no two bedroom houses for them to move into.”
“I think the Government needs to visit impoverished places such as the Central Estate and realise just how much of an impact this is going to have.”
From April, the new bedroom tax will affect both social housing tenants in employment and those in receipt of housing benefits if they are found to be under-occupying their homes.
Iain Sim, chief executive of Coast and Country who organised yesterday’s summit, described the new legislation as the “nasty tax” and called on the Government to make a u-turn, as it did on last year’s pasty tax following a nationwide uproar.
Sylvia Robson, 52, also part of Housing Hartlepool’s tenant consultation panel will now be one of many reps attempting to galvanise tenants into launching protest campaigns.
Sylvia, a mum-of-one who lives in a one-bedroom flat on the Headland with her husband, Matthew, 54, who works in security, said: “For me this was about finding out about the nitty-gritty of the new legislation and how it’s going to have an impact on residents.
“There are a lot of big houses on the Headland and all at once people are going to have real problems in paying for them.”
Mr Sim, who was delighted with yesterday’s turn out. added: “It just shows the strength of feeling that there is about the bedroom tax.
“The next move now is up to the tenants.
“We wanted to gauge the strength of feeling across the region and find out whether tenants are feeling the same as those at Coast and Country and I have seen that we have a real passionate bunch across the region.
“Now it’s up to them what they want to do.
“I think the Government is starting to realise how much of an impact this is going to have and if they can make a u-turn on the ‘Pasty Tax’ last year, then I would hope they can do the same when it comes to people’s homes.”