Wiganers lose out in benefit shake-up

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MORE than 7,000 Wigan residents could be penalised for living in a house with an empty bedroom.

A report for Wigan and Leigh Housing (WALH) reveals that under the Government’s new Welfare Reform Act, thousands of council tenants could lose up to a quarter of their housing benefits.

It states that the Under-Occupation Penalty, which comes into effect April next year, could adversely affect between 5,800 and 7,260 tenants belonging to WALH.

The penalty, dubbed the “bedroom tax,” applies to anyone of working age who is under-occupying their social housing property by one bedroom or more.

As a result, housing benefit will be reduced by 15 per cent for one room, which is the equivalent of £12 per week, or 25 per cent if two or more rooms are unused, totalling £20 per week.

Another proposal which would hit all Wiganers on benefits hard is the Universal Credit, which will come into force in October next year.

Anyone claiming work-related benefits would receive a single monthly payment, replacing their previous benefits, including housing allowances.