Bedroom Tax petition launched

Collecting signatures at Tram sunday, from left,  Vivien Davies, Bill Reed and Ray Smith (Fleetwood Against the Cuts).
Collecting signatures at Tram sunday, from left, Vivien Davies, Bill Reed and Ray Smith (Fleetwood Against the Cuts).

A petition has been launched in Fleetwood opposing the controversial Bedroom Tax.

The protest is being coordinated by a group called Fleetwood Against the Cuts, whose members were busy campaigning in the town during the weekend’s Tram Sunday.

They will be gathering names for their petition throughout the summer and then intend to take the forms to housing group Regenda and similar organisations.

Bill Reed, of FAC, told the Weekly News: “We know the Bedroom Tax is a Government initiative and part of the wider welfare reforms, but it involves social housing providers such as Regenda.

“Our petition is part of a national campaign in which it was decided that taking it to the housing groups who have to administer this tax will be more effective than just taking it to the Government.”

Regenda, the main social housing provider in Fleetwood, has gone on record as opposing the Bedroom Tax but must still deal directly with its tenants who are affected by it.

The tax, known as the under-occupancy rule, involves a capping of benefits to those who claim them if they have a room in their home considered to be spare. Housing benefit will be cut by a fixed 14 per cent of the full rent if there is one extra bedroom – and 25 per cent if there are two extra.

The rule is hitting some people hard, with tenants who have any extra bedrooms losing much-needed money to live on. They include Wendy Slapp, 57, who lives alone in a two bedroom house on Abbotts Walk, Fleetwood, which is run by the Places For People housing group.

She said: “I am losing around £12 a week which basically leaves me about £10 a week to live on. I need to have an extra room because I have family members with health issues who sometimes need to stay. Now I’ve been told I could lose more money because I have an extra lounge.”

Ray Smith, chairman of FAC,said: “This hated tax is affecting the poorest and most vulnerable people.”

Housing Benefit is administered by local councils and paid to housing associations along with all other rent.

Steve Blackburn, Regenda’s Head of Customer and Housing Services, said: “We are opposed to the Bedroom Tax, and continue to actively campaign against it.

“It places us in an impossible situation; we exist to provide homes to people and families most in need, but the changes the Government has introduced means many may fall into serious arrears.

“We genuinely understand the distress and hardship many of our residents are facing and are working to support those who are affected by it.

“We understand the frustrations campaigners may be feeling but we would urge them to present their petition to the Government.”