HOUSING chiefs in Wigan are being urged to follow some other local authorities to help their tenants beat the bedroom tax.
The borough-based Community Action Party (CAP) wants Wigan and Leigh Housing to reclassify council properties now being hit by the Government’s controversial Under Occupation Charge.
It is calling for the council to examine all its two, three and four-bedroomed properties to look at whether they are “suitable for modern-day living.”
CAP’s deputy leader Michael Moulding said: “We want Wigan and Leigh Housing to examine its housing stock and to reclassify properties that have small or box rooms affected by the bedroom tax.
“We want houses known as having parlour rooms reclassified by Wigan and Leigh Housing. We want all rooms reclassified as “non-specific rooms.”
“We want all properties looked at to ensure they are correctly classified to ensure they fit with modern day living and to minimise the effects of the Bedroom Tax.
“Once properties are reclassified and the number of rooms reduced this will enable more take-up of larger properties for Wigan families and will also result in those being affected by “The Bedroom Tax” no longer being affected.”
Chief executive of Wigan and Leigh Housing Ashley Crumbley said that of Wigan and Leigh Housing’s 22,600 tenants, 4,200 are affected by the Bedroom Tax.
And it was providing them with both budgeting advice and help in down-sizing to smaller accommodation.
It has also ring-fenced a third of vacant properties to tenants seeking to down-size.
He said: “Wigan Council has agreed this quota can be increased if we need it and we are finding many tenants are using mutual exchanges.
“A few social landlords have been ‘reclassifying’ properties, Leeds Council being the latest.
“Our concern is that the Government could simply close this option either now or when they introduce Universal Credit later in the year.
“Also, at present, we are finding we can re-let the three-bedroom houses with small bedrooms, so it is difficult to justify removing bedrooms when there are still families needing them. However, all options - including reclassification - remain open. and we will continue to lobby the Government for a review.”