Local residents have voiced concerns regarding the latest welfare reforms, and the Citizens Advice Bureau on Towerdykeside have received a number of enquiries.
Patricia Buckley from the The Citizens Advice Bureau told the Hawick News: “We’ve had enquiries from older people who own their own properties, who have been given the impression bedroom tax is a tax on all spare bedrooms, so were worried about being taxed in their own properties. It’s confusing because of the language being used.”
The latest reforms, which have been dubbed ‘bedroom tax’, apply to housing benefit claimants of working age as of April 1 2013 and will reduce the amount of benefit that residents receive if they have a spare bedroom in their council or housing association home. The cut will be a fixed percentage set at 14 per cent for one extra bedroom and 25 per cent for two or more extra bedrooms.
The government argues the changes will help cut the £23bn annual bill for housing benefit, free up living space for overcrowded families, and encourage people to seek employment.
Mrs Buckley was keen to reassure local residents. “It is not a tax on the number of bedrooms you have if you own your own property, and changes to housing benefit won’t effect those past retirement age.
“If you do rent from a housing association, there is a table online which indicates how many bedrooms the property you rent should have. If you have more than the specified number, your housing benefits could be reduced, but there are discretionary housing payment that you can apply for.”
People who live in a one-bedroom flat or bedsit or are old enough to receive pension credits will not be affected.
Concerned residents can visit the council website on www.scotborders.gov.uk or contact Citizens Advice Bureau on 374266 or www.adviceguide.org.uk for further information.