'Bedroom tax' means benefit cuts for 4,700 Hull households
ABOUT 4,700 households in Hull are facing benefit cuts from April because they have spare bedrooms.
Changes to the national housing benefits system mean working-age claimants in council and housing association properties will receive less if they are judged to be living in accommodation considered too large for their needs.
On average, housing benefit entitlement will be reduced by 14 per cent for one extra unused bedroom and by 25 per cent for two or more spare bedrooms.
Council official in Hull estimate the changes here will see a reduction in benefits in the city of about £2.8m per year.
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But they fear many people likely to be affected by the change still do not know anything about it.
A recent survey of more than 2,000 council tenants in Hull revealed almost half were unaware of the so-called bedroom tax.
And more than a third of those who responded said they were already struggling financially.
In Council Avenue, west Hull, Karl Dobson is in a minority – having bought his house from the council more than a decade ago, the 48-year-old does not claim housing benefit.
However, he has strong views about the changes likely to impact on some of his neighbours.
He said: "There can be all sorts of reasons why people end up with a spare bedroom.
"If someone is living in a house that's too big for them through no fault of their own, I don't see why they should be victimised like this.
"If they want to crack down on people claiming benefits when they shouldn't, I can take them to somewhere right now where six people are doing a job and claiming benefits for supposedly being unemployed.
"I think it's wrong that certain sections of society get picked on like this.
"What about MPs who get second home allowances to live in grand houses that we all pay for?
"They should get rid of that sort of thing first."
Although pensioners who currently claim housing benefit will be exempt, new estimates published by Hull City Council show the impact of the changes will be felt citywide.
They reveal about 3,500 households will face a 14 per cent deduction in their benefits with just over 1,000 expected to suffer a 25 per cent deduction.
Advice letters have now been sent to all tenants.
In an accompanying report, the council's housing manager Laura Carr said other welfare reforms being introduced at the same time would almost certainly create extra pressures.
She said: "A number of changes to housing benefit for private sector tenants are likely to lead to an increase in demand for council housing as this is likely to be affordable, especially for under-35s who only qualify for the single room rate.
"Restrictions on local housing allowance payments may also lead to an increase in private rented sector evictions."
Councillors will discuss the report next week.