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Benefits changes ‘not understood’ by some Bradford tenants
The message about looming benefits changes is not getting through to those who will be affected, according to a social housing provider.
Accent Foundation, which owns more than 2,000 homes in the Bradford district, is warning that many tenants do not yet understand the forthcoming welfare reforms, with some mistakenly thinking they will not be affected.
The cuts to benefits will affect claimants aged between 16 and 61.
The first change to come into force will be the under-occupancy penalty, known as the ‘bedroom tax’, and the benefit cap, which both begin in April.
The bedroom tax means social housing residents will lose some of their housing benefit if they have a spare bedroom, whether it is used as a bedroom or not.
And the benefit cap will put a new limit on the total benefits a household can claim.
Accent is giving advice to its residents, and staff are talking to those most at risk, but its chief said she was concerned the message was not getting through.
Managing director Claire Stone said some people mistakenly thought the bedroom tax will not apply to them.
She said: “One thing we have seen is that some residents didn’t think they had a ‘spare bedroom’.
“Some thought that if they weren’t using their ‘spare bedroom’ as a bedroom, or it wasn’t spare – being used when children or other relatives stayed who didn’t live there, or for medical reasons – the bedroom tax wouldn’t affect them.
“This simply isn’t true. The Government has decided how many rooms it will pay housing benefit for depending on how big a family is and what the mix is.
“If residents have more bedrooms than what the Government thinks they need, their housing benefit will be cut.”
She said Accent was also trying to help those on benefits to find employment.
She said: “The best way we can help our residents is by getting them off the welfare benefits system and helping them find jobs.”
Any Accent tenants who are worried about the changes should speak to their housing teams as soon as possible, she said.