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Warning over benefit changes
A WILTSHIRE councillor is urging those receiving housing benefit to “wake up” to the “double whammy” impact of cuts coming into force from April next year.
Cllr George Jeans is concerned that people may not have realised the full impact the changes to benefits being brought in by the Government will have on them.
Nearly 3,000 households across the county who are under occupying their home by having more bedrooms than deemed necessary under the new criteria, will see a reduction in housing benefit. And households that currently receive 100 per cent council tax rebate will receive a maximum of 80 per cent rebate.
The change comes as the Government abolishes council tax benefit, leaving councils to develop their own schemes.
Cllr Jeans is concerned that those affected might not yet have planned how to pay the shortfall or arrange to downsize.
He said: “Persons are present in the community who will not “wake up” to the impact on them until next year regarding these financial cut backs.
“Wiltshire Council has written to many who may be affected by the bedroom tax and anyone who thinks they may be affected needs to fully understand the situation as proposed.”
The bedroom tax means that children under the age of ten, regardless of sex, will have to share a bedroom, otherwise the household is seen has having more rooms than necessary. Children of the same sex must also share until the age of 16.
Wiltshire Council is currently working with social housing providers across the county to offer a house swap scheme and it is giving advice on how to make up the shortfall.
Some households will be protected from the criteria of both the bedroom tax and council tax rebate reduction, including pensioners, those with disabilities, and war widows and widowers.