OVER 1440 Herefordshire residents will be hit by the controversial ‘bedroom’ tax on social housing that came into force yesterday.
A National Housing Federation study estimates 766 people in the Hereford and Herefordshire South constituency, and 675 in Herefordshire North, will fall foul of the new regulations.
Those affected will see their annual housing benefit cut by at least £591, or an average of £14 a week.
The changes allow for one bedroom for each person or couple living as part of the household, with the following exceptions:
• Children under 16 of same gender expected to share.
• Children under 10 expected to share regardless of gender.
• Disabled tenant or partner who needs non resident overnight carer will be allowed an extra bedroom.
The human cost, however, varies.
While students are exempt, providing they are away for less than 52 weeks ( or six months for Universal Credit), parents that have children who visit – but are not technically part of the household - are not.
Nationwide, the bedroom tax will hit an estimated 660,000 working-age social tenants – 31% of existing working-age housing benefit claimants in the social sector as the government looks to cut expenditure.
The majority of these people have only one extra bedroom, for those deemed to have two, they stand to lose 25% of their housing benefits – or £1, 055 a year.
Herefordshire's lower earners are already the victims of insufficient affordable housing, according to its 'affordability ratio', the relationship between lower quartile house prices and lower quartile earnings.
A council bulletin last May noted that over the previous 11 years, Herefordshire’s affordability ratio has been consistently higher than regionally and nationally.
In 2011 in would cost a Herefordian on lower earning 8.6 times their annual salary to buy a house at the bottom end of the market, over 25% more than the West Midlands average.