TENANTS living in homes with spare bedrooms face moving or suffering a big drop in benefits in a controversial move which a local housing society fears will have a “significant impact” on Ross-shire communities.
Around 30 tenants in the Easter Ross village of Milton alone will be worse off when the new “bedroom tax” is introduced next spring - and Albyn Housing Society is warning this will result in rent arrears and penalise entire communities.
The welform reforms being introduced in April 2013 means working tenants will have their housing benefit slashed by 14 per cent if they have one extra bedroom and by 25 per cent if they have two or more spare bedrooms.
The new rules allow one bedroom for each adult or couple and expects two children under the age of 10, and two same-sexed children under the age of 16, to share a room.
Mother Tracy Forsyth from Drovers Way, Milton, has worked out that if she can’t find a smaller home she will lose out on £50 of housing benefit a month _ which would pay to feed her household for a week.
Tracy has lived with her teenage son in the same three-bedroom terraced house for 10 years.
“When I heard about the changes I didn’t pay much attention as I thought it would never happen,” she said.
“I now know that unless I am able to downsize, my housing benefit will be cut by 14 per cent which is almost £50 each month.
“To me that’s a lot of money. It would feed us for a week or heat the house for a fortnight.”
Isabell McLaughlin, chair of Albyn Housing Society Board and vice-chair of Milton Tenants Forum, is worried about the lack of smaller properties.
“It is very concerning to learn many tenants still don’t realise the ‘bedroom tax’ is not only going ahead, it is going affect them directly,” she said.
“In Milton alone, around 30 households face a cut in their housing benefit entitlement. There aren’t enough smaller properties in the community for them to move to, so where are they going to go?”
Invergordon-based Albyn Housing Society is urging affected tenants to seek advice about the impending “bedroom tax”.Read the full story in this week's Ross-shire Journal.