Area lacks houses to down size to, to avoid ‘bedroom tax’

Berwickshire councillor Michael Cook. Meeting at Eyemouth Mission which saw Eyemouth fishermen question the industrys' future with Quayside Conservation and Marine Scotland.
Berwickshire councillor Michael Cook. Meeting at Eyemouth Mission which saw Eyemouth fishermen question the industrys' future with Quayside Conservation and Marine Scotland.

A local charity estimates that Welfare Reform changes will take £14 to £15 million out of the Borders economy.

During a discussion at the Berwickshire Area Forum this week, one of the main concerns was the impact of the so called ‘bedroom tax’.

People receiving housing benefit may see it reduced if they have more bedrooms than they are thought to need. But it was pointed out that although they may want to move to a smaller house, there are no houses available.

Councillor Donald Moffat said: “There are 1100 homes in the Borders affected by this.

“The reality is that we don’t have the number of houses of the right size.

“How many would we have to build to correspond with what this Government is trying to do?”

Councillor Michael Cook agreed, adding: “Most people will find they don’t have a choice to down size and will have lost money.”

It is expected that the 1100 people affected will lose a total of £500,000.

In Berwickshire 1500 people will have been affected by the changes made in Council Tax benefit claims that came into force last month and 1152 households affected by changes in Local Housing Allowance to the tune of £250,000 a year.

In June this year Disability Living Allowance claimants in the area will start to be moved over to the Personal Independence Allowance (PIP). 1800 people in Berwickshire will be “invited to change” and they must respond when they are contacted as their Disability Allowance will stop.

SBC welfare benefits officer, Alastair Scott gave an assurance that everyone affected would be contacted before any changes were made but admitted: “It will lead to significant changes and hardship for these people.”