‘Bedroom tax’ affecting 400 Redbridge families

Nearly 400 Redbridge families have been faced with the choice of moving home or losing housing benefit after the controversial “bedroom tax” started.

At the last count in June, 366 households had been affected by the change, which means people deemed to have a “spare bedroom” have their benefit cut if they do not move to a smaller home.

Those with one “extra bedroom” will have 14 per cent of the benefit paid towards their rent cut, and those with two or more will lose 25 per cent.

Government figures state the average loss for council tenants is around £14 a week and £16 for people renting from housing associations.

Under the controversial rules, children under the age of 16 are expected to share if they are the same gender and until aged 10 if they are not.

Redbridge disabled parents’ forum Interface is concerned about the impact on families. Member Mary Busk said: “The changes will impact adversely and negatively on families with disabled children.

“They may have adapted bedrooms or their behaviour and lack of ability to sleep may mean that having a separate bedroom is the only way to survive as a family, as is the case in many of our own families.”

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Only working-age housing benefit and universal credit claimants living in social housing are affected, meaning pensioners will not be forced to move. Foster parents and people with adult children in the armed forces are also exempt.

Last week, the High Court dismissed a legal challenge by disabled campaigners claiming the subsidy illegally discriminated against residents with disabilities.

Judges said it was lawful because of discretionary payments made available from councils by the Department of Work and Pensions to cover losses.

In May, Solihull grandmother Stephanie Bottrill committed suicide after being told her housing benefit would be cut by £20 a week. She left a note saying the government was to blame.

A Redbridge Council spokesman said affected people had been contacted. She added: “Housing advice and help is always available and we will continue to offer this to anyone affected.”

• Has the “bedroom tax” affected you? Call 020 8477 3821, or email lizzie.dearden@archant.co.uk.