'Inhumane' cuts will force poorest from homes, says Council's Labour leader (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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'Inhumane' cuts will force poorest from homes, says Council's Labour leader
Buy this photo » Rennie Outhwaite fears having to move house after his partner died
Controversial welfare reforms that will see thousands of the poorest people in the Bradford district forced to move out of their homes following Government cuts to housing benefit have been branded “inhumane” by the Council’s new Labour leader.
Councillor David Green described the so-called bedroom tax as “ill thought out”. Social housing tenants of working age will have their benefit cut if they have a property with a spare bedroom or be forced out of homes to which they an “emotional attachment”.
The cuts, which come into force next April when the Government’s Welfare Reform Bill becomes law, will hit 4,600 families living in social housing across the Bradford district, latest figures have revealed.
Coun Green, who became Labour group leader last week, said: “It is going to affect thousands of people within the district, many of whom have lived in their houses for decades and that is something that this new piece of legislation misses.
“A home is somewhere people have brought up families and, in some cases, they have even been born there and brought up children. Apart from the financial issue, there is the moral issue of people being forced to move.
“These are the poorer people. Is the Government saying that the poorer people should be treated differently from those who are better off?
“I think it is a piece of legislation which is ill thought out and will prove, in many cases, to be inhumane.”
Coun Green spoke out after disabled 59-year-old Rennie Outhwaite, who lives in an Incommunities property in Thompson Lane, Baildon, contacted the Telegraph & Argus, “outraged” at the possibility he might have to leave the two-bedroom house where he has lived for about seven years.
He will be classed as an “over-occupier” after his partner Mick Bentley died, aged 42, in December last year – leaving him alone in the house.
Coun Green said the authority was looking at “discretionary support”.
It would also be a “practical impossibility” to find suitable homes for everyone because of a shortage-of-housing crisis.
Dave Dickens, director of social housing group Incommunities, said 2,900 of its tenants would be affected by the change in the law. Some had already moved to smaller homes.
Anyone who need to discuss the changes with Incommunities should call the Income Team on (01274) 254777.
'I lost my partner, now I might be turfed out'
Disabled Rennie Outhwaite fears he will be “turfed out” of his home or face a cut in his housing benefit following the death of his partner.
His life was thrown into turmoil in 2010 when his partner of more than 20 years, Mick Bentley, died, aged 42, leaving Mr Outhwaite alone in the two-bedroom social housing property they shared in Thompson Lane, Baildon.
Mr Outhwaite fears he will be unable to make up the shortfall of £14 per week he will have to pay as an “over-occupier”, or face being forced out under welfare reforms.
Mr Outhwaite, 59, said: “I have suddenly found that I am going to be turfed out of the back door or lose a significant amount of my housing benefit. “It is a tax on widows and people who have had to deal with the death of their partners.”
The former decorator, who has arthritis and depression, said he feared the worst for others, particularly young people. He said: “What really concerns me is the 18 to 25-year-olds who are going to have £10 to £14 taken out of about £80 per fortnight. Are they going to turn to prostitution and drug dealing to make ends meet? “It is a disaster waiting to happen.”