Council respond to 'Bedroom Tax' fear claims that Cumbernauld residents will 'lose their homes'
Written by Scott Campbell.
 
 
Published at 17:17 GMT on Tuesday 19th February, 2013.
Picture is copyright of Cumbernauld Media/ Scott Campbell.
 
CUMBERNAULD households are been offered support by North Lanarkshire Council amid fears that Cumbernauld residents will be forced out of their homes.
 
The local authority’s advice announcement  came amid fresh concerns that Cumbernauld home-owners could be forced to move after the UK Government passed its ‘Bedroom Tax’ as part of Welfare Reform charges.
 
The new system means that from 1st April 2013 those housing benefit receipts, of working age who live in an under-occupied home, by one bedroom, will see their housing benefit reduced by 14% of their current rent and if residents are under-occupying by 2 or more bedrooms, housing benefit would be reduced by 25%.
 
Responding the UK Government’s changes, North Lanarkshire Council has taken on additional temporary employees to help provide residents with the advice they need to help manage the impact of these changes; will be writing to more than 5,800 tenants who may be affected to offer them information and support; issued more than1,300 letters to those affected in 25% bracket - 2 bedrooms or more; letters will be sent to tenants affected by 14% bracket - one bedroom at end of February; and, those affected will be offered the chance to receive a visit from a trained council advisor who will provide guidance including income maximisation and budgeting advice.
 
The council’s response has forced the town’s MP to hit out at the Government’s ‘Bedroom Tax’ during Prime Minister’s Questions.
 
Gregg McClymont, MP for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East has warned that local people will be forced out of their homes, after tabling a question to PM David Cameron at Prime Minister’s Questions.
 
The Labour Member’s comments came after he met Iris Henderson who contacted him upon being informed that she will be hit by the ‘Bedroom Tax’, with the possibility of losing her home as a result.
 
Iris (59) has spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia congenital – or, Dwarfism, standing at 3ft 5in tall, and has spent considerable time and money to adapt her home to suit her needs, including spending £4,500 on specially lowered kitchen appliances.
 
“I used my opportunity to question Cameron this week to highlight how the Bedroom Tax is unfairly impacting people with serious conditions like Iris,” said Gregg McClymont MP.
 
“She has lived in her home for over 30 years and often has family members to stay with her. I don’t think we should punish grandparents who want to have a spare bedroom for when their grandchildren come to stay.
“The Government should be focusing on getting us out of recession by creating jobs instead of targeting the poorest families with a tax on bedrooms.
“I am holding a surgery for those affected by these changes on March 15 in Cumbernauld Town Centre when I hope to have professionals from Jobcentre Plus, the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and North Lanarkshire Council on hand to provide advice. Please feel free to contact my office on 01236 457788 for more details.”
 
The changes only affects tenants of working age - if either the tenant or partner gets pension credits they won't be affected.
 
For more information about the welfare reform changes being introduced by the Westminister Government, phone 01698 403170 or go to www.northlanarkshire.gov.uk/yourmoney.
 
 
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