Bedroom tax could hit 17,000 people in Kent
Homes where students are
away at university are among those worst hit
An estimated 17,000 people across Kent and Medway could be hit
by the government's so-called "bedroom tax", according to figures
released by welfare groups.
Charities say the changes in housing benefit rules will mean
more people at risk of eviction and problems paying rent.
Across Kent and Medway's parliamentary constituencies, an
estimated 17,175 people stand to lose out - either by being asked
to pay more rent or to move to a smaller property.
The average rent increase for those considered to have one spare
bedroom would be as much as £47 a month more, or £569 a year.
For those with two extra bedrooms, it would be £1,415 a
Ashford is the worst affected area according to data compiled by
the National Housing Federation, where there are 2,624 likely
Those who are in homes where they are considered to have an
extra unwanted bedroom could see their rents increase by £480 a
For those in homes with two extra bedrooms the increase would be
£857 a year.
In Canterbury, there could be 1,609 people affected - the second
highest figure in the county - with annual rents increasing by £525
Chatham and Aylesford could see 1,552 people affected, with rent
increases of £490 a year or £876 a year.
At the other end of the scale, fewer people would be affected in
Tunbridge Wells, with 404 likely losers and Tonbridge and Malling,
Homelessness charity Porchlight said the changes were an attack
on the poor.
Mike Barrett, Porchlight chief executive, said: "These aren't
families or individuals living a life of luxury.
"They are normal households who are struggling to make ends
"If something isn't done now to stop this policy then we are
certain to see people facing rent arrears and eventually
"If something isn't done now to stop this policy then we are certain to see people facing rent arrears and eventually eviction" – Mike Barrett, of charity Porchlight
"People are being
asked to find more money or uproot their lives and move to a
smaller property. Neither of which exists. It's just another driver
for homelessness and an attack on the poor."
The Kent Green party joined the attack. Campaigns director Dr
Hazel Dawe said: "The tax is indiscriminate and unjust, it
penalises the disabled, single parents, families of those recently
deceased, foster parents and the parents of children in the army or
"The retrospective nature of the tax makes it particularly
unjust as people did not know about the threat to benefits when
they took up the tenancy."
But Ashford MP and policing minister Damian Green defended the
changes, saying safeguards were in place to protect the most
"The principle is that benefits should go to the right people,
but we do
have to keep the budget under control.
"I have concerns, but we have got a quarter of a million social
housing tenants in over-crowded accommodation and many are in
It is unacceptable for the government to subsidise people to
live in accommodation that is too big for them."
Pensioners would be unaffected, as would those who needed
Under the government's welfare changes, those with one spare
bedroom would lose 14% of their housing benefit, while those with
two would lose 25%.
The government says changes are needed to make better use of
social housing and councils have extra money this year to help the
most vulnerable tenants and disabled.
What do you think? Join the debate below.
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