Controversial welfare reforms have kicked-in this week – leaving thousands of the poorest Dales residents with less money.
The cuts, which took effect from April 1, will leave 1,916 Dales households with higher council tax bills as working -age claimants take an 8.5 per cent reduction in their benefit.
From this week a total of 440 households in the Dales were also be hit by the ‘bedroom tax’ – which aims to encourage people to downsize if they have spare rooms.
Households with one extra bedroom will have a 14 per cent reduction in housing benefit and those with two or more spare rooms will receive a 25 per cent cut.
In the Dales,this equates to a weekly benefit reduction of £22 for 99 households and £12 for 341 households.
Jaque Allen, executive director of Dales Housing, the largest provider of social housing in the Dales, said: “These reforms will hit people hard and many will have to make big changes to their lifestyles.
“We will do everything we can for our tenants, but they are responsible for their rent and they have to pay it.”
All claimants deemed to have a spare bedroom will be affected by the changes.
This includes: couples using a ‘spare’ bedroom when recovering from an illness or operation; foster carers; families with disabled children; parents whose children visit; disabled people living in adapted or specially designed properties; as well as separated parents who share childcare and have an extra room to reflect this.
Hard-hit Matlock resident, John Wild, said: “I am on housing benefit – and not because I want to be – I work 25 hours a week because I did not want to be on the dole and get help with my rent .
“But I have one room spare so I have to pay bedroom tax. I’m trying to find a full time job but there is nothing out there,” he added.
On the council tax reduction, Cllr Lewis Rose, Leader of Derbyshire Dales District Council, said: “The government has given us no choice but to make changes that will affect local people. “