Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham is urging the government to drop their proposals to reform housing benefit which will penalise families, foster carers, individuals with disabilities, and separated parents with children in Stockton North for having a spare bedroom in their social housing.
Under the government’s new proposals to tackle under-occupancy of social housing, thousands of Teesside households will be forced to choose between losing up to 25% of their housing credit (over £1,000 a year in some parts of the north) or move into a smaller home at a time when such homes simply don’t exist.
Most social homes were built for families to there is no doubt people will struggle to find smaller properties leaving them no option but to remain where they are and pay the extra cash from food or other budgets.
The impacts of the reforms will be felt by many of those living in social housing in the Stockton Borough but also by the wider community. The Safer Stockton Partnership in particular has been in discussions to determine what the potential impact will be on Crime and Anti-social statistics with higher levels of deprivation and homelessness and Alex shares their concerns.
“Whilst I do believe it is important to tackle under-occupancy given the extent of overcrowding and the shortage of homes in the social rented sector, I strongly believe that what the Tories are proposing will undoubtedly disadvantage those who are already struggling most to make ends meet.
“The Bill will affect almost one third of all housing benefit claimants living in the social rented sector, and yet the areas where under-occupancy is most prolific tend to have a low supply of smaller properties, so it will be very difficult to re-house tenants.
“The cut is also excessive. The government estimate that nearly 80% of those affected only have one bedroom spare and it may not necessarily even be empty all the time. Where a couple have split up, a child staying with their parent at the weekends would not be entitled to a room of their own as their parent will be entitled to just one. The government’s proposals would even class two young children with their own bedrooms as under occupying.
“The proposals are simply madness, and I will do all I can to fight the Tory government on this issue. Penalising families in the Stockton Borough for under-occupying when they have nowhere to move to is unfair and unjust.”