Westcountry pensioners could be hit with cuts to housing benefit

Westcountry pensioners could be forced to move into smaller houses under the so-called “bedroom tax” being introduced by the Government.

The new measure is part of the new universal credit scheme which is being introduced by the Government from April.

It means housing association and council tenants will have housing benefits cut if they are deemed to have spare bedrooms – 14% cut for one spare room and 25% for two – in a move designed to free up large housing.

Around 600,000 people nationally – and almost 10,000 in the Westcountry – are expected to be hit by the changes, which could amount to a £14-a-week cut in benefit.
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Pensioners were thought to have been exempted completely from the move. However, it is understood the exemption will end for new claimants in mixed-age homes after October.

Leaked guidance from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) states: “New housing benefit claimants who are mixed-age couples and claiming pension credit will not be exempt when they transfer on to universal credit.”

Shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne told the Sunday People, which uncovered the different status of new claimants, that the Prime Minister needed to “get a grip”.

“Ministers promised to protect pensioners from the bedroom tax, but thousands are set to lose out,” Mr Byrne said. “David Cameron had better get a grip fast, before this scheme descends into total chaos.”

It proved more unwelcome news for pensioners in Devon and Cornwall already concerned with rising living costs.

Read more: http://www.thisiscornwall.co.uk/Westcountry-pensioners-hit-cuts-housing-benefit/story-18190259-detail/story.html#ixzz2LMuam7c6
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