Pensioners hit by 'bedroom tax'

Some pensioners with spare rooms will be hit by reductions in housing benefit under what critics dub the Government's "bedroom tax", the Department of Work and Pensions said. A ComRes poll reveals most of the British public want to delay the tax.

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'Bedroom tax' targets complain they had no choice of property

We asked followers of the @itvnews Twitter account how they might be affected by cuts in benefits to those deemed to have spare bedrooms in their properties.

Tashii from Norfolk said she could understand why the government might want to make such savings but that it was "not fair" for people who did not choose where they lived:

Heather Simpson said she would have to find an extra £100 a month and that she also had not chosen the property she lives in.

She said she was considering a 'rent strike' in protest at the proposals:

Father worried 'bedroom tax' will keep his kids away

Alex Milne split up with his partner a year ago and his two children - Rhiann,10, and Billy, 3 - come to stay every weekend and on the holidays.

He lives in a two bedroom flat in Irvine near Glasgow. His daughter stays in the spare room when she comes to visit, but under the 'bedroom tax' he may be forced to downsize to a one bedroom flat.

Alex says he can't afford the £40 a month it would cost to stay where he is but he is worried his children would not want to stay with him if they had to share a bed.

ITV News' reporter Sejal Karia visited him at home:

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Couple: We'd lose our quality of life if we 'downsized'

Lisa and Brett live in a two bedroom property in Essex and fear they will be affected by the 'bedroom tax'.

Under the new rules, they would be classified as a couple and would only be entitled to one bedroom. To stay in their current home they would have to pay £80 per month for the second bedroom.

ITV News' reporter Sejal Karia visited them at home to find out why their 'spare' bedroom is much more than a luxury:

Viewers debate whether 'bedroom tax' is justified

ITV News viewers have been commenting on our report about the human cost of the 'bedroom tax' on our Facebook page. Here is a selection:

I know elderly people in four bedroom houses that are not affected. I know these elderly people have raised their kids in these homes and they hold lots of memories but ... me and my husband have five children and live in a three bedroom house and have four girls age ranging from 15 to 4 and I desperately need bigger accommodation.

– Marijka

I think it is fair in a lot of ways! I'm in a house private[ly] rented wanting a social housing house for my family. Why should my mum have one when we have all moved out? I do think it should be means tested and only affect those who really are living in space they can live without...

– Emma

It is all very well people ... saying that anyone who has a spare room should move out to a smaller property. But where are the smaller properties? There aren't any!

– Pat

Viewers react to report on human cost of 'bedroom-tax'

ITV News viewers have been reacting on Twitter to our report about how the 'bedroom tax' will affect a disabled couple and a divorced parents.

What aid is available for those hit by 'bedroom tax'?

The government says that anyone hit by the 'bedroom tax' in April will be able to apply for Discretionary Housing Payments to soften the blow. However, these payments will not be available to everyone.

  • The National Housing Federation says funding for the payments is capped at £30 million and this is not ring-fenced
  • Only foster carers and disabled people are eligible
  • Payments are granted at the discretion of local authorities
  • When the funding is gone, it's gone

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Shortage of smaller properties leaves tenants 'trapped'

For example, an estimated 180,000 social tenants in England are ‘under-occupying’ two-bed homes. This means they will be required to downsize or face a cut to their benefits.

But only 84,898 one-bed social homes became available for letting in 2011/12.

The housing shortage is particularly critical in the North of England and Scotland, according to the Federation.

Watch: Father will have to 'sacrifice food' to keep second room

Father will have to 'sacrifice food' to keep second room

Father of two, Alex Milne, is separated from his partner and lives in a two bedroom flat where his children stay every weekend and during the holidays.

He is unemployed and on benefits but because the children do not live with him full time his second bedroom is deemed to be spare.

If he is unable to downsize he will have to stay in the flat and find £40 a month to keep the second room and he says he will have to cut back on food to pay for it.

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