£100,000 bedroom tax relief for Hartlepool residents

Councilor Rob Cook
Councilor Rob Cook

AN extra £100,000 will go to help people in Hartlepool who have been hit by the Government’s controversial bedroom tax.

Social housing tenants who fall into one of six priority groups will receive a top-up in their benefits under Hartlepool Borough Council’s Discretionary Housing Payment scheme.

Pregnant mums over 24 weeks, soon-to-be pensioners and terminally ill claimants will be credited with the full amount they lose in their housing benefit as a result of the bedroom tax.

And parents who are separated or divorced and whose children stay with them sometimes will get 50 per cent of the costs met.

The cash boost is on top of 16 weeks support for tenants previously agreed by the council at a cost of £346,000.

Other tenants who will benefit from the new discretionary payments include disabled claimants whose home has been adapted through a Disabled Facilities Grant and those whose children are on an age threshold and will need an additional bedroom in the next 12 months.

The funding was agreed by the council’s finance and policy committee.

They agreed to give an extra £13,000 towards the category for child access than recommended.

Coun Marjorie James said: “It is unfair for society to clobber them and make it difficult for them to maintain that relationship.”

Councillor Rob Cook said the bedroom tax was: “the most ill thought out policy this government ever came up with and it has come back to bite them on the backside.

“I am all for doing whatever we can to help these people but at the end of the day I think the whole system is a shambles.”

The bedroom tax came into force on April 1 and affects social housing tenants in employment and those in receipt of housing benefits if they have any unoccupied rooms.

Households under occupancy have their benefits cut by around £13 each week for one bedroom or £22 for two bedrooms.

The council has been given £317,000 by the Department of Work and Pensions for its Discretionary Housing Payment scheme for 2013-14, including £62,000 to help those affected by the bedroom tax.

Payments can only be made to people receiving housing benefit and who have a shortfall in their rent.