Whitby and district must wake up to bedroom tax

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STAFF from one of Whitby’s housing providers are taking to the street on a bed to raise awareness of forthcoming changes to the benefits system.

Yorkshire Coast Homes (YCH) workers will be doing a bed push in Whitby on 5 March as well as others elsewhere in the borough.

The plan is to highlight the changes to the benefits system which come into effect from April this year and encourage people to think about how they will be affected.

The event will be held in Whitby between 10am and 2pm when YCH staff will be on hand to advise what the changes are, how people will be affected and what options exist for people to ensure they are prepared for the forthcoming changes.

From April there are three main changes people should be aware of.

The first is the under occupancy restrictions or as it has come to be known as: “the bedroom tax”.

This means that peoples’ housing benefit allowances will be cut by 14% of their rent if they have one spare bedroom, or for two or more bedrooms this will be cut by 25%.

The second change will be the increase in charges for non-dependents which will see the deductions increase to almost double what they were three years ago, with a minimum of £13.60 deducted from housing benefit.

Finally, April will also see a reduction in full council tax benefit payments.

Although pensioners will be protected from this for the year 2013/14, any working age tenants will only receive a maximum of 91.5% of their council tax benefit, meaning that even those who are sick or disabled and previously had their council tax covered in full through this particular benefit will have to contribute a small amount each week to this.

Richard Mair, policy, PR and investment manager for Yorkshire Coast Homes said: “We have come upon this as a novel and fun way of taking a serious message out to the local communities.

“The forthcoming changes are quite significant and will have an impact so we want to try to help as many people to understand them and to discuss the impacts of the welfare reforms with specialist advisors.

“This is likely to be the start of a difficult time for many households and it’s important people are aware of the changes and that they can get advice as early as possible.”

If anyone is uncertain whether or not they are affected by the changes they can speak to staff on the 5 March or call Yorkshire Coast Homes direct on (0845) 0655656.