Poor families to feel the pinch

Bernie Keenan, Managing Director, New Progress Housing Association, Leyland
Bernie Keenan, Managing Director, New Progress Housing Association, Leyland

More than 650 of the poorest families living in South Ribble are set to be financially crippled when their benefits are slashed next month.

People living in council or housing association properties with a ‘spare’ bedroom will see their benefits cut by between 14 and 25 per cent from April, and the controversial move has been blasted by Leyland’s New Progress Housing Association.

The new Bedroom Tax – a cut to the financial support which people on low incomes get towards their rent – means that people will be told to move into a smaller property or lose an average of £547 a year because they have a ‘spare’ room.

A spokesman for New Progress said: “For these working-age families, finding another £46 a month will be incredibly difficult, if not impossible.

“Many will have to choose between heating and eating.

“Even those who want to downsize can’t, because there just simply aren’t enough smaller properties.

“These aren’t families living a life of luxury. They are normal households with children who have their own rooms, separated parents who need a bedroom for their child to visit at weekends, or foster parents who need another room to care for vulnerable children.

“It really will hit our communities hard.”

Bernie Keenan, executive director for housing, community and support services for New Progress, added: “We know these changes will potentially have a huge impact on our tenants and we are doing all we can to help, from visiting homes to give advice, working with partners to provide support and offering employment opportunities.”

- For more on this story, see this week’s Leyland Guardian.