Families to be hit by spare room tax

Gordon and Sue Hooker who are set to be hit by the bedroom tax. MP Yvette Cooper
Gordon and Sue Hooker who are set to be hit by the bedroom tax. MP Yvette Cooper

Thousands of social housing tenants face moving home or losing money when a “bedroom tax” on spare rooms comes into force.

More than 5,000 tenants across the district could be affected by cuts to housing benefit for people in housing association homes with a spare room.

Tenants will be told to move into a smaller property or will have to pay an under-occupation penalty.

The latest figures from the district’s main social housing provider – Wakefield and District Housing (WDH) – show there are just 15 one-bedroom and 25 two-bedroom properties available across the district.

Gordon Hooker, 55, has lived with his wife Sue, 51, and her son in a four-bedroom house on Cutsyke Avenue in Castleford for 20 years.

Mr Hooker has severe degenerative disease of the spine and severe arthritis and has not worked since 1990.His wife is his full-time carer.

The family has been looking for a two-bedroom property since they found out about the new rules six months ago.

Mr Hooker said: “The problem is people are going to be hit even if they are actively seeking to move.

“They simply haven’t given us enough time to find another property.”

Social housing tenants with one spare room will lose 14 per cent of their housing benefit and those with two spare rooms will lose 25 per cent.

Mrs Hooker said: “We have got four weeks to get out of here and that’s the scary part because we would have to find more money.”

WDH estimates at least 2,000 tenants live in two-bed homes with a spare room and almost 3,200 live in three-bed homes with one or two spare rooms.

WDH chief executive Kevin Dodd said: “We expect demand for our smaller properties to increase significantly, and at this stage it is not clear how quickly these tenants will be able to move to alternative accommodation, or how long they will be expected to manage with a reduced income.”