Lifeline hopes over £1m ‘bedroom tax’

Mark Taylor , who has won his battle with The Bed Room Tax
Mark Taylor , who has won his battle with The Bed Room Tax

A £1 million package of measures to help thousands of Doncaster people who could be hit by the ‘bedroom tax’ looks set to be agreed.

Doncaster Council’s cabinet is being asked to back a £1 million pot which will provide short term aid for people who are set to be hit by changes under the Benefits Reform Act.

Today, those affected by new rules which will see people lose benefits if they have empty rooms, were urged to apply to the authority for help by one resident who has been told he will receive assistance for next year.

Mark Tylor, of Shaftesbury House, Intake, has been told he has won a bid for discretionary housing payment, which will allow him to keep his home on for another year. He was helped by MP Rosie Winterton.

His home has rooms which are used by his three daughters, Kira, aged 13, Roxanne, nine, and Ella, six, when they visit. He is no longer with their mother.

But the unemployed decorator said: “I don’t think £1m will be enough to help everyone who needs it.

“I was told this week I would receive assistance next year, and I don’t think the fund that comes from has been promoted enough.

“I would urge people to get in touch with the council about it.”

Mr Tylor is angry about the new rules, and says he and others will protest outside the law courts if anyone in Doncaster is taken to court for failing to pay rent because they have lost money under the new rules.

He said: “I’ve been put on medication by my doctor for the stress this has caused.

“If this means people being taken to court, I will take part in demonstrations outside. People could be getting into debt to the tune of £12 a week.”

A report before cabinet on Wednesday says the £1 million Welfare Report Reform Scheme will make awards for more than six months only in exceptional circumstances, although there was no cap to the level of assistance.

It would look at helping where people wanted to move but needed time; where they needed help adjusting to a lower income; and if they would be affected for less than 12 months.

The report admitted the discretionary housing payment scheme was unlikely to cover demands placed on it.

It added there were just under 3,500 people in Doncaster currently under-occupying their council homes, paying £2.1m in rent in total.