DERBYSHIRE DALES: Nowhere to go for tax hike tenants

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A Wirksworth councillor is urging her own authority to denounce the ‘bedroom tax’ to central government after fresh statistics reveal the devastating lack of smaller properties available in the Dales.

Figures obtained by the Mercury show that Dales Housing – the areas largest social housing provider – have no vacant one-bedroom properties and only 12 two-bedroom properties currently available.

Dales Housing have approximately 300 tenants deemed to be under-occupying their properties.

The housing figures (valid as of June 5, 2013) follow a report earlier this month where we revealed there had been a three-fold leap in the number of people applying for emergency handouts since the welfare reforms were introduced.

Cllr Irene Ratcliffe, district council ward member for Wirksworth, said the findings were “worrying” and proved that the policy did not work – especially in rural areas like the Dales.

She said: “Despite all the hard work that Derbyshire Dales Council have done and how compassionate they are, they need to tell central Government that this policy is not working and distance themselves from it.

“If they don’t, then they have failed the most vulnerable people in the Dales.”

In March, Irene forwarded a motion to send a letter to central Government denouncing the welfare reforms, but members voted against it.

She is now urging the authority to re-consider and “take a stand” against the “flawed and unfair” policy.

A spokesperson for the district council stressed that there is a safety net for the hardest hit residents.

“Hardship payments are available from the district council to help during the transition period. We are monitoring demand very carefully,” they added.

If you are struggling with the benefit changes, call the helpline on 01629 761188, email benefits@derbyshiredales.gov.uk or seek independent advice from Citizens’ Advice on 0844 3752712.