Changes to housing and council tax benefit – or the ‘bedroom tax’ as it’s more commonly known – came into action on April 1.
So what does this all mean?
Many social housing tenants living in properties deemed too large for them will have their housing benefit payments cut. Under the reforms, this is likely to affect about 3,000 people in Cornwall alone.
Why is this happening?
Well, the government wants to end what it calls the “spare room subsidy” for social tenants. It hopes the “under-occupancy changes” will shave £500m off the nation’s benefits bill.
That’s fair enough, some might say. Those living in a house with spare rooms and claiming benefits should move into something smaller. But is there enough social housing in Cornwall for people to relocate? The simple answer is no. And people are worried – so much so that the internet’s abuzz with interactive surveys and quizzes which calculate just how better or worse off you’ll be. Take this “bedroom tax” calculator for example.
With thousands of people having demonstrated across the country – two protests were held in Cornwall – the reform is proving unpopular among many.
Lots of people aren’t content with the 1p off a pint peace-offering the Chancellor made in his annual Budget. Or the tax relief on childcare (apparently starting in 2015.) No, these individuals took to the streets, armed with placards and banners, chanting “axe, axe the bedroom tax,” and encouraging passing traffic to honk if they support. Plenty did.
First and foremost, I aimed to gather the opinions of protesters, as well as those who support the changes, and those who don’t. This should allow me to form a script and keep my package balanced.
I’ve spoken to protest organisers from Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance, and have interviews lined up with George Eustice, Conservative MP for Camborne, Redruth and Hayle, and Jude Robinson, Labour Councillor for Camborne North.
Will you be affected by the Government’s housing benefit reforms? Let me know what it means to you using the form below.