Corby is among worst hit by ‘bedroom tax’

The so-called 'bedroom tax' has proved divisive
The so-called 'bedroom tax' has proved divisive

Corby and East Northants is in the top five constituencies in the East Midlands which will be most affected by the so-called ‘bedroom tax’

It has a total of 1,541 people in council and social housing whose homes are deemed to be under-occupied and who will have their housing benefit reduced unless they move to a smaller property.

Only the constituencies of Nottingham South, East and North in the region have more tenants who will be affected by the changes, which come into effect next month.

The figures released by the National Housing Federation estimate that in Northampton North 757 tenants will be hit, with 866 in Northampton South, 920 in Wellingborough and 656 in Kettering, making Corby and East Northants the worst-hit constituency in the county.

Corby Council has sent out 970 letters to tenants explaining the changes and asking people to contact the authority if they are worried they will be unable to pay their rent.

The council’s lead member for housing, Cllr Bob Eyles, said: “We want to ensure all our council tenants are fully aware of the adjustments that could be made to their payments when the new system comes into place.

“If residents have any queries or concerns our officers will be on hand to give help and advice as thoroughly as they can.”

The Government hopes the changes will encourage people to move to smaller properties, freeing up much-needed homes.

According to its figures, there are 20,480 households on a waiting list for social housing in Northamptonshire.

Of the 970 households affected in Corby, 239 tenants will be hit by the higher 25 per cent cut in benefit because they are deemed to be under-occupying their home by two or more rooms.

East Northants Council estimates a total of 541 households will be affected and of these, 90 tenants will have their benefit cut by 25 per cent because they have two or more unoccupied rooms.

The worst hit ward in the constituency will be the Kingswood estate in Corby, with 158 households set to lose out.

A 55-year-old Corby woman, who has asked not to be named, lives in a three-bedroom house in the town.

She has been told that, because she has two spare rooms, she will have to make up the difference between her new rate of housing benefit and the actual rent, a sum of about £20.

She said: “I am being put in an impossible situation.

“I just do not have the money to pay it. I don’t have a spare penny.

“I’ve been on to the council to try to get a one-bedroom flat but there is nothing available and I am not well enough to cope with taking in lodgers.

“What am I supposed to do? This situation is making me ill.

“It’s causing me mental anguish. I’m worried that I will end up losing my home.”