Council turns down motion to oppose ‘bedroom tax’ hitting 800 Redbridge families next month

Redbridge Town Hall

Redbridge Town Hall - Credit: Archant

Around 800 Redbridge families will lose housing benefit when the “bedroom tax” comes in next month.

Cabinet member for housing Cllr Michelle Dunn said 388 council tenants will be hit and 412 families in social housing at Thursday’s council meeting at Redbridge Town Hall, in High Road, Ilford.

Labour councillors motioned for the council to oppose the controversial subsidy by writing to work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith and lobbying parliament.

But the move was defeated by 35 votes to 25.

From next month, working-age housing benefit and universal credit claimants in social housing will lose benefits if they are deemed to have a spare bedroom.

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

The council will be given a discretionary fund to replace benefit lost by people needing extra rooms and foster carers and people with children serving in the Armed Forces are exempt.

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Labour leader Cllr Jas Athwal said the change will “punish the poor”, hitting disabled families, people on low incomes and the unemployed.

Cllr Dev Sharma was concerned that families would be faced with the “stark choice” of leaving the area or cutting back on food and utilities and Cllr Wes Streeting warned of the “cumulative impact” of multiple benefit cuts as the cost of living increases.

But Lib Dem leader Cllr Ian Bond said Redbridge was overcrowded and the change will free up space.

Cllr Dunn said all affected residents have already been contacted and the council is giving them support and advice.