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‘Bedroom tax’ impact reduced for more than 260 Renfrewshire households

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‘Bedroom tax’ impact reduced for more than 260 Renfrewshire households

Renfrewshire Council’s Leader has welcomed the fact that more than 260 Renfrewshire households facing disability and illness have been spared from a ‘bedroom tax’ hit of around £150,000 a year.

In the cases of 263 people who receive Housing Benefit, the council has found that a ‘spare’ room isn’t in fact ‘spare’ because it’s either needed as an additional room for an overnight carer or can’t be used as a bedroom because it’s needed for storing medical equipment.

renfrewshire council logo .JPGCouncillor Mark Macmillan, Leader of Renfrewshire Council said: “I am absolutely delighted that in the case of 263 local residents facing illness or disability issues, we’ve been able to re-assess their case and deem that a ‘spare’ bedroom is not in fact ‘spare’ and is very much needed either for either an overnight carer or for storing medical equipment. This will save these households on average an £11 cut in their Housing Benefit each week – that’s around £572 over the year for each home.

“This is another step forward in what’s been a robust response to the ‘bedroom tax’ from Renfrewshire Council. We previously pledged that, where our tenants are working with us, we will not resort to eviction to collect rent, where arrears have occurred as a direct result of the under occupancy rules.

“I’ve always maintained that this benefit change is unfair, and we’ve now heard directly from UN official, Raquel Rolnik, that Under Occupancy Rules should be suspended to allow time to assess the human rights implications and re-design the reform. I completely share her view on this.

“We will do all we can to help Renfrewshire residents who are facing hardship as a result of the ‘bedroom tax and I would encourage anyone who feels that their ‘spare’ room can’t be used as a bedroom because of disability or medical reasons to contact our Benefits Team.”

Renfrewshire residents who would like to speak to someone about having a room re-assessed due to disability or medical equipment, or because of a overnight carer sleeping in a room, should call the Benefits Team on 0300 300 0204.

Residents who receive Housing Benefit and are having difficulty meeting their housing costs can apply for financial support to the council’s Discretionary Housing Payments fund: www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/dhp or call 0300 300 0204.

Under-Occupancy rules mean households are losing an average of £11 per week in Housing Benefit for one spare room – that’s around of £2,893 saved for the 263 households a week; amounting to around £150,000 over the year.

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Major investment planned to help residents through hardship

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Major investment planned to help residents through hardship

Renfrewshire Council will invest an additional £200,000 into helping local people who are struggling to pay their rent, if the move gets the seal of approval next week.

Council bosses want to top up a fund that’s in place to help residents receiving Housing Benefit who are having difficulty meeting their housing costs – by £215,648.

If the move gets rubber-stamped next week, it will bring the council’s total investment into the Discretionary Housing Payment fund up to £365,648, following a £150,000 contribution in December.

renfrewshire council logo .JPGCouncillor Mike Holmes, Deputy Leader of Renfrewshire Council said: “We know the UK Government’s benefit changes are having an impact on local communities. More people are coming to us for advice, more people are falling into arrears, more are applying for DHPs, and more families are using food banks.

“This latest investment will bring our overall contribution to this key support fund up to more than £365,000 – the maximum we are allowed to contribute to DHP. We want to do all we can to help local residents through these tough times.”

“Our message is clear: if you’re facing financial hardship and are struggling to meet your housing costs, apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment. Help is there and we don’t want local families to struggle. Our Advice Works team can even help you if you need support to fill in the form, so please get in touch.”

Any Renfrewshire resident who is claiming Housing Benefit and having difficulties meeting their housing costs can apply for a DHP.

Application forms are available at www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/dhp or you can call 0300 300 0204 to ask for one to be sent out to you. If you need help to fill out a form (and for general financial support) please call Advice Works on 0300 300 1238.

The proposed top up of the DHP fund will go before the Finance and Resources Policy Board for a decision on 28 August.