A SENIOR councillor has reiterated his call to scrap the controversial ‘bedroom tax’ after figures suggested the policy was driving council house tenants further into debt.
Figures released by trade union the TUC showed that a third of families affected by the policy, which sees benefits slashed in homes that have spare bedrooms, had fallen further behind with their rent since its introduction in April.
The union also revealed that around a quarter of council house tenants in South Derbyshire are currently in arrears, leading to concerns that the cut in benefits is only making the problem worse.
Labour’s Kevin Richards, leader of the opposition in South Derbyshire. said the figures were further proof that the policy was hitting the vulnerable and called for the policy to be scrapped.
He said: “The bedroom tax is very discriminatory in that it only affects people on benefits in social housing.
“I find it personally a very distasteful piece of legislation. It’s hitting families that are already being hit by cuts. It’s hitting the most vulnerable section of society. They are already down so why kick them further?”
Councillor Richards has previously called for spare bedrooms to be reclassified as ‘non-specific rooms’, as has happened elsewhere in the country as a way of getting around paying the tax, but any such moves were ruled out by district council chiefs.
Suman Antcliffe, advice session supervisor at the East Staffordshire Citizens Advice Bureau, said the policy had left many families in an ‘impossible’ position.
She said: “With only £71.70 Job Seekers Allowance, paying the bedroom tax and less council tax, it is nearly impossible for them to pay it all when they have to pay things like utility bills as well.”