Figures released by the Labour party in Northumberland show the stark reality behind the government’s introduction of the so called ‘bedroom tax’.
New rent arrears across Northumberland - families who have never been in arrears prior to the introduction of the bedroom tax - have ‘rocketed’ by 62%.
Figures also show that families in Northumberland will lose an estimated £1.9m as housing benefit is reduced.
An estimated 5,225 families across the county are affected by the housing benefit reductions. Sixty four per cent of those affected are ‘in work’ and receive housing benefit to supplement a minimum income.
It also emerged that the discretionary fund made available to cushion the impact of the bedroom tax has only provided payments to 95 families despite 1,119 families seeking support to meet extra payments which average £12.56 per week.
Now Labour in Northumberland are calling for ‘a common voice’ as it prepares to lobby the government on the problems. They want to join up with local MPs and voluntary groups to make the case to show the government’s discretionary housing payment fund is ‘too little, too late’.
A Labour spokesperson said: “These figures highlight the misery and human impact of the ‘bedroom tax’ and it’s clear that there are significant problems emerging which will mean tough decisions for families and local government.
“New arrears have rocketed by 62% since the tax was introduced and it’s clear that the government’s discretionary fund payment is woefully inadequate. This shouldn’t be about party political point scoring. We’re committed to working with everyone and every organisation which wants to lobby the government on behalf of their communities.”