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'Priority' for tenants affected by 'bedroom tax'
SOCIAL housing tenants affected by the “bedroom tax” are being given extra priority under Wiltshire Council’s housing policy to enable them to downsize more easily.
An amendment to the Homes4Wiltshire policy will see extra priority given to families in social housing of working age who are deemed to be under occupying their home by two or more bedrooms.
An estimated 441 households in the county are affected and will see a 25 per cent reduction in their housing benefit from April, as part of the Government’s welfare reform.
These households will now be placed in the council’s ‘gold plus’ banding which will allow opportunities for them to downsize, freeing up larger family accommodation.
The council says the amendment should help reduce the amount of households that end up in rent arrears or being evicted due to reduced benefit.
The Homes4Wiltshire policy has been developed in partnership with the council and 32 other housing providers who have social housing stock in Wiltshire.
The amendment follows a three-month consultation that took place from August to November last year and it was agreed at a meeting of the council’s cabinet on Tuesday.
John Thomson, cabinet member for housing, said: “Changes by the Government mean people will have to make tough choices. “We are aiming to be as fair as possible and have looked carefully at the potential impact on everyone this applies to.
“We believe the changes we are making to the policy will help people to downsize to more suitable accommodation that meets their needs and help with the impact of the Welfare Reform Act. It’s vital we support those who need it most.”