Updated: Sunday, 12th July 2020 @ 9:02am

More than 1000 Manchester residents seek council help to pay bedroom tax with government fund set to run out

More than 1000 Manchester residents seek council help to pay bedroom tax with government fund set to run out

By Samson Dada

More than 1,000 Manchester residents have asked the council for help to pay the government’s spare bedroom charge this year, MM can reveal.

Manchester City Council received a £1.9million government fund to help those struggling to pay the charge and the full allocation is expected to run out in April, after 1,170 applications for assistance were already made.

Housing benefit is paid to claimants based on the bedrooms the government think they need and not the amount they have, so a single person would be paid for one bedroom.

Councillor Jeff Smith, Manchester City Council’s Executive Member for Finance, said: “This year, now welfare reform has taken its hold, the city council is on course to hand out the full £1.9 million allocation.

“But once again, the funding can never be a cover-all solution to everyone's financial shortfall.”

However, he defended claims from Pensions Minister Steve Webb MP that £595,000 of unspent Discretionary Housing Payment were returned to the government last year.

Mr Smith added: “In 2012/13 our allocation was £700,000, with an additional £200,000 carried forward from 2011/12. Even so, the funding available was nowhere near the amount cut from benefits, but enabled us to mitigate the worst effects.”

Last week, during a Labour led Commons debate and vote on repealing the charge, Manchester Central MP Lucy Powell challenged the Department for Work and Pensions to commit to future funding.

She said: “The government minister assured me and other MPs that the council can go to the government for increased funding for this.

“I have written to the government to make sure that they keep to this promise. It would be completely wrong if vulnerable people were left without support.”

The motion to scrap the charge was defeated by was defeated by 252 to 226 in the House of Commons, reducing the government's majority to 26.

Labour leader Ed Miliband has pledged to repeal the policy if his party forms the next government after the 2015 general election. 

Image courtesy of Luke Hayfield, with thanks

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