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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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.