Bedroom tax in the North East

At least half a million pounds of unpaid rent is due to councils in the North East as tenants struggle to cope with the effects of benefit changes.

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Full Report: Bedroom Tax blamed for council house arrears

It was one of the Government's most controversial cuts - and tonight we have learned the full extent of the so-called bedroom tax in the North East.

Councils have told Tyne Tees News that they are now owed more than half a million pounds in unpaid rents.

This follows the Coalition's decision to cut benefits for people who have a spare room.

You can watch the full report from Dan Ashby below.

Bedroom Tax blamed for council house arrears

At least half a million pounds of unpaid rent is due to councils in the North East as tenants struggle to cope with the effects of benefit changes.

There were protests across the region when welfare reforms came into force in April.

The demonstrations were mainly about the so called bedroom tax which means tenants must pay more if they have a spare bedroom.

Two thirds of people in Newcastle who are affected are now in arrears.

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Bedroom tax begins

The controversial so-called Bedroom Tax has come in to force.

Under the new scheme, residents in social housing with one spare bedroom will have their housing benefit cut by 14%, while those with two or more unoccupied rooms will see it reduced by 25%.

Protests against the measures have been taking place across the region.

Full Report: Bedroom tax in the North East

Families across the region will have their benefits reduced from next week if they live in a council house and have one or more spare rooms under the so-called "bedroom tax."

The government wants them to downsize, saying it will free up more space and bring down the benefits bill.

It has been dubbed "the bedroom tax" - and one family says that the move will force them into poverty, without money for food or heating.

You can watch the full report from Frances Read below.

Billingham man "disgusted and let down" by new bedroom tax

Peter Newell from Billingham says that he feels "disgusted and let down" by the government who have implemented the benefit changes.

He lives with his wife in a three bedroomed house which is specially adapted for his disability, although he says that he would be happy to move into a two bedroomed house but there aren't any available with the adaptations he needs.

Paul says that under the new "bedroom tax" he will lose £15 a week which will make it hard to pay for food or heating.

Full Report: Confusion over bedroom tax requirements

A man fighting government plans to introduce the 'bedroom tax,' claims he has found a loop-hole which could make people exempt from paying it.

Currently, anyone living in social housing will receive less benefits from next month if they have unoccupied bedrooms.

Michael Brennan, from Newcastle, relies on a disability benefit. He says the government is wrong to tax him on a space which is too small to be classed as a bedroom.

Watch the full report from Jonny Blair below.

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MPs urged to scrutinise effects of "bedroom tax"

North East MPs are being urged to ensure the Government's "bedroom tax" is rigorously evaluated before it comes into force.

Housing association Riverside has written to MPs to ensure the Welfare Reform Bill is fully scrutinised, as it estimates nearly 7000 tenants will be affected by the new tax.

Under the reforms families considered to have too much living space by local authorities will receive reduced benefit payments.

North East constituencies most likely to feel the full force of the reforms include Gateshead and North Tyneside where a quarter of Riverside households will be affected.

We are very concerned about the impact of benefit cuts on our tenants and the business, having campaigned against a number of aspects of the Welfare Reform Bill as it went through Parliament.

"While the Welfare Reform Act is now on the statute book, there are still changes the Government can introduce to help mitigate the impact including undertaking a comprehensive review of the policy."

– Hugh Owen, director of policy and communications at Riverside

Riverside is trying to mitigate the impact of the reforms under its B!G Changes campaign and is targeting those at risk to explain their options, including seeking to downsize, take in a lodger and 'stay and pay'.

"We are asking MPs for their support in ensuring that any evaluation is undertaken quickly, independently and thoroughly.

"It also needs to be sufficiently broadly scoped to consider the financial impact of the policy, its impact on individuals and the wider neighbourhood impact."

– Hugh Owen, director of policy and communications at Riverside
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