Redbourn woman’s anguish over ‘bedroom tax’

Beverly Hughes in her spare bedroom

Beverly Hughes in her spare bedroom - Credit: Archant

FOR 32 years Beverley Hughes has lived happily in her two-bedroom council flat in Redbourn.

But after hearing she would be penalised for having an unoccupied bedroom under the Government’s new spare room subsidy she made the difficult decision to move out.

In a rush to downsize before the ‘bedroom tax’ comes into force in April, which would leave her £14 a week worse off, the 57 year old applied to St Albans district council to be rehoused.

Six months later she is still waiting for a smaller flat and is now becoming increasingly worried that one will not be found for her in time.

Beverley, of Tassell Hall, who is unemployed and receives disability benefit and income support, said: “I don’t want to move out because I have lived here all my life but I have got to move. Everyone is now trying to downsize but there are not enough properties for us all. The government has not considered that.”

She desperately wants to stay in the village where she has put down roots but accepts finding £14 a week to remain in her current home would hit her finances hard.

The long-standing resident added: “I think the bedroom tax is disgusting. I want to speak up for everyone who will be affected.”

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Beverley is just one of the estimated 875 council or housing association tenants in St Albans who will have their housing benefit reduced by 14 per cent if they are deemed to have one spare room, and 25 per cent for those with two or more spare rooms.

St Albans district council said it was doing “all it can” to help social housing tenants who want to downsize, and said high priority was given to those who wished to move from a three-bedroom or two-bedroom property to free up family-size accommodation.

Tenants who move to a one-bedroom property are also entitled to a one-off grant of £1,250 and the council will cover their removal costs.

Karen Dragovic, head of housing at the council, said: “The council is doing all it can to help social housing tenants living in the district who will be affected by the housing benefit changes and who want to move to a home with fewer bedrooms.

“The timescales for moves depend on what type of property the applicant is looking for and when these properties become available.

“The council’s transfers officer, Michael Tempest, is available to assist or provide advice. He can be contacted on 01727 819293.”