Trial scheme to help bedroom tax tenants

Alison McKenzie-Folan, director for customer transformation, Wigan Council, Lord Peter Smith, council leader, Lord David Freud and Ashley Crumbley, chief executive, WALH
Alison McKenzie-Folan, director for customer transformation, Wigan Council, Lord Peter Smith, council leader, Lord David Freud and Ashley Crumbley, chief executive, WALH
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COUNCIL chiefs have proposed a trial scheme to aid Wigan families who are suffering financial hardship due to the bedroom tax.

Dedicated members of staff from the local authority will be tasked with helping those trying to downsize their accommodation as part a new Home Finder Service.

The recommendation - part of a report detailing a number of measures to combat the effects of the tax - was presented to cabinet members last week.

Director Alison McKenzie-Folan, who co-authored the report said: “These proposals are part of an evolving picture, it doesn’t mean we’ll stop here, these are the latest things. The Home Finder Service will be for six months, what we want to see is if this service could alleviate some problems for people.

“Dedicated staff will work with those who are keen to move because of the implications of the bedroom tax, whether they become part of a mutual exchange or move to other housing associations.

“Staff will work alongside a range of other housing providers to see what can be done to help providing support for families for their housing needs.”

The report stated that more than 3,500 Wigan tenants were affected by the tax - which cuts benefits to social housing tenants who have extra bedrooms deemed superfluous to their needs.

Stated figures reveal the amount of people affected in Wigan (19%) is almost double national average (10%).

Other measures to help tenants include access to a discretionary hardship fund, financial advice services and incentives for down-sizing such as financial aid for removals.

Some of the borough’s limited stock of one-bedroom properties have already been “ring-fenced” for downsizing tenants.

Ms McKenzie-Folan added: “We know the situation in Wigan is worse than elsewhere but these measures are just part of what we’re doing to help those affected.”