Lincolnshire tenants moving to smaller homes to avoid 'bedroom tax'
THIRTY housing association tenants in East Lindsey have already been re-housed to smaller properties ahead of changes being made to welfare reform.
Dubbed as the 'bedroom tax', the Government is reducing the amount of housing benefit claimants get if people are considered to have a spare bedroom.
This means that anyone of working age in East Lindsey who claims housing benefit and has a spare room, will receive less money and will have to pay the shortfall in their rent from their other funds.
Ahead of the changes which come into force from April, New Linx Housing Association has taken a proactive response since September, making their tenants aware of the changes.
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Director of Operations at New Linx, Jack Whyman, said: "We have successfully moved 30 families since September into smaller properties. As a housing association we have proactively identified those tenants likely to be affected, written to them all and we are working with them further to help them. We are now entering a second phase where we are visiting people to advise them and make them fully aware of the changes. We have also created a dedicated website and a helpline number."
It has been reported that the welfare changes could result in people having rent arrears.
Another change which is coming in is that housing benefit will be paid direct from the tenant to the housing association and no longer from the local authority.
New Linx is working in partnership with Lincolnshire Credit Union who will soon be launching bank accounts for New Linx tenants to encourage people to manage their money and to save.
Mr Whyman added: "Lincolnshire Credit Union is about ethical saving and is better than going to door step lenders. New Linx will be paying the joining fee for the first 200 tenants who sign up to a credit union account scheme. We want to help our tenants as much as we can. We do expect an increase in demand on our services and we are working closely with partners such as the Credit Union and CAB. "
Portfolio holder for housing at East Lindsey District Council, Councillor William Gray, said: "While our housing benefit team have already written to all those tenants likely to be affected by the changes to give them advance notice, there is information available on the district council's website, including a frequently asked questions download which has advice about ways those affected can meet the shortfall in their rent.
"Individuals who are in real need of additional help with their housing costs can apply to the local authority for a Discretionary Housing Payment."