Grantham Journal columnist: Labour leader Charmaine Morgan

Charmaine Morgan, Labour leader for SKDC
Charmaine Morgan, Labour leader for SKDC
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South Kesteven District Council has started implementing the new Government ‘bedroom tax’.

For many local people this will result in a significant increase in their rent payment on their council homes, or homes rented through a social landlord.

The tax affects anyone not occupying all ‘bedrooms’ in their home. In response to a resident’s query, I contacted SKDC’s senior housing manager regarding concerns that South Kesteven District Council may charge people the ‘bedroom tax’ even if their spare room is too small to take a bed. I was advised that there is no minimum size for a bedroom under the new proposals.

Worse. where a room is designated as a bedroom, and is too small to sleep another person, residents would be expected to sleep in their living room. The social consequences of this are huge and can impact on a whole community.

The more we look at the proposals the more flawed they seem. I have been contacted by distressed residents unable to pay their additional rent increase.

People suffering from medical conditions, who cannot work but are unable to claim Disability Living Allowance, are particularly vulnerable. With a shortage of one- and two-bed council homes, there is no guarantee that they can be suitably re-housed.

At our last full council, the SKDC Labour Group opposed the proposals and argued for funding to provide a ‘cushion’ to help people. The council has a Discretionary Housing Payment fund for those unable to make rent payments. It is extremely important that anyone identifying they may be unable to afford the changes contact the council on 01476 406080 to prevent rent arrears occuring.

We were given assurances that a ‘scaleable’ fund would be provided and are monitoring the situation. The only long-term solution is for the Government to re-think this unjust policy which will not help our housing crisis whatever else it does.