Bed­room tax leaves one in nine fam­i­lies out of pocket

Midweek Visiter - - Front Page - BY JAMIE LOPEZ and AN­NIE GOUK jamie.lopez@reach­plc.com @jamie_lopez1 Picture: ANDREW STENNING

ONE in every nine peo­ple on hous­ing ben­e­fit in Sefton has had their ben­e­fits cut by the bed­room tax, new fig­ures have re­vealed.

There are 2,133 claimants across the bor­ough los­ing some of the hous­ing ben­e­fit they would other­wise re­ceive be­cause of the con­tro­ver­sial tax.

The fig­ures, pub­lished by the Govern­ment, show the sit­u­a­tion as at Fe­bru­ary this year. It is the first time the full ef­fect of the bed­room tax – in­tro­duced in 2013 – has been laid bare.

The bed­room tax is a cut in hous­ing ben­e­fit that ap­plies to peo­ple who live in a coun­cil or hous­ing association home and are classed as hav­ing a spare bed­room.

The tax – of­fi­cially known as the spare-room sub­sidy re­duc­tion – doesn’t ap­ply to pen­sion­ers and those liv­ing in pri­vately rented hous­ing.

The data shows 11% of all hous­ing ben­e­fit claimants in Sefton have faced a re­duc­tion be­cause of the mea­sure – al­though the pro­por­tion af­fected is even higher in some parts of Mersey­side.

Peo­ple in St He­lens and Knowsley are the most af­fected by the bed­room tax, with 16% of claimants hav­ing their ben­e­fits cut – af­fect­ing thou­sands of peo­ple in both ar­eas.

In Liver­pool, the bed­room tax ap­plied in 13% of cases, af­fect­ing 7,188 peo- ple, while in Sefton the fig­ure was 11% and Wir­ral 10%.

On av­er­age, claimants across Mersey­side who had their ben­e­fits re­duced by the bed­room tax saw the amount they re­ceived cut by be­tween £15 and £16 a week, the equiv­a­lent of more than £800 a year.

A South­port cou­ple made na­tional head­lines af­ter win­ning a stun­ning Supreme Court vic­tory against the Govern­ment over the bed­room tax last year. Wheelchair user Jac- que­line Carmichael, 44, spends most of her days in a hos­pi­tal-style bed at home while hus­band Jayson, 54, has to sleep in an­other room.

But their hous­ing ben­e­fit was slashed by £56 a month, af­ter wel­fare in­spec­tors ruled the cou­ple had more bed­rooms than nec­es­sary.

Af­ter a four-year le­gal bat­tle, their case reached the Supreme Court where Eng­land’s most se­nior judges found their hu­man rights had been breached.

Jayson and Char­lotte Carmichael, from South­port, who won their Supreme Court fight over what they said was un­fair im­po­si­tion of the bed­room tax

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