Saturday, November 24, 2012

Council waiting list ‘out of control’

Press Release

Council waiting list ‘out of control’
Fears grow that ‘bedroom tax’ will ‘wreak havoc on communities’.
Northumberland Liberal administration has come under fire for ‘failing local people’ as figures released show that the council’s standard ‘Homefinder’ waiting list has rocketed to a record 13,424. The figures also show that countywide around 5000 families are also affected in ALMO and Housing Association properties by the new Universal Credit due for introduction in April 2013.
The council is currently assessing its stock as changes brought in under the new Universal Credit rules will introduce the ‘so-called Bedroom Tax’. The council currently estimate that the ‘bedroom tax’ will affect over 1500 HfN tenants in ‘under occupied’ properties across the county. Latest figures released by YOUGOV estimate that the average housing benefit claim of £80 will be reduced by £40 for each empty room.
The changes introduced by the coalition government are due to be phased in from April 2013 and Labour group leader Grant Davey is calling for an urgent statement from Liberal Council leader to set out how the council is proposing to deal with what he describes as ‘a ticking tax time bomb waiting to blow up in the faces of the most vulnerable people in the county’.
One of the biggest problems facing the Liberals at County Hall is a chronic shortage of one bedroomed properties which would be needed as the ‘under occupancy’ issue hits working age families some of whom who have lived in their communities for many years.
Labour group leader, Grant Davey said
‘The changes heralded by the ‘bedroom tax’ will come as a major shock to communities and it comes as a direct result of the coalition government. Before this is dismissed as scaremongering, local Liberals and Tories have to let us into their plan to deal with their government’s ideological attack on communities in Northumberland. For example, a couple living in a three bedroom house (married couples only qualify for one bedroom) will have their total housing benefit removed if they stay in their historical home.
Not only will this law, made in Whitehall but delivered in Northumberland by its very own version of the ConDem alliance, break up communities and families but it will wreak havoc with the council’s already stretched finances. This policy could see people moved out of properties against their will and there are no plans currently to deal with the fallout. The Liberal Democrat administration is failing its own people and we need an urgent statement from the Leader of the Council.
End
Notes for Editors
This release was based on information released by the authority to questions put by Labour members
  • The Homefinder waiting list stands at 13424 as of last Thursday (15 Nov)
  • County wide 5000 families are affected dwelling in Almo and Housing Association properties. The rural urban split is similar.
  • Most underoccupiers require 1 Bedroom properties.
  • HfN have 24 x1 bedroom properties empty.
  • Homefinder have a total of 136 x 1 bedroom properties
  • Yougov  tell us the average housing benefit claim of £80 will be reduced by £40 for each empty bedroom under occupied
  • A couple living in a three bedroom house (married couples only qualify for one bedroom) will have their total housing benefit removed if they stay in their historical home.
  • 1 bedroom properties: 1898
  • Bedsits: 20
  • We have an estimated 1500 affected by the under occupancy charge.
  • It will always be difficult to be precise without direct contact but we are still door knocking to get a full picture.
  • Some of those cases will be under occupied by more than one bedroom. These are only working age people.
  • There is more widespread under occupancy in the older age groups
As of today the voids by bedroom are:

HfN
Blyth
Alnwick
1 Bed
24
19
5
2 Bed
79
70
9
3 Bed
32
25
7
4 Bed
2
2
0
5 Bed
0
0
0
Total
137
116
21






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