Housing benefit changes - act now

EDITOR - We are constantly being told that as many as 75 per cent of our residents are on benefits and we all know that benefits are being replaced, eroded, reduced or cut completely.

April is fast approaching and the changes this Government is making to Housing Benefits will very soon be affecting some of our residents. I know it would be easier not to think about it, but I urge those affected by this cut to contact their housing association and do whatever is possible to help themselves.

For those people with a spare bedroom the Housing Benefits payment will automatically be reduced by 14% of the rent payable on the property and those with two or more spare bedrooms will see a reduction of 25 per cent. This will mean residents will have to make up the shortfall in rent.

East Lindsey District Council has said that if the Housing Benefit changes affect you, there are a number of things you can do:

Talk to your landlord about transferring to a smaller home or taking in a lodger.

Register for an exchange via Homeswapper (www.homeswapper.co.uk).

Get in touch with your local Citizens Advice Bureau by calling 08444 994199 or email (www.citizensadvice.org.uk).

Make sure you are claiming all the benefits you’re entitled to and they also suggest you try to find some paid work to increase your income.

For those that have access to a computer, www.spareroom.co.uk may be worth looking into. There are a lot of spare rooms in Skegness but very few rooms to let.

I understand from people I’ve spoken to that they believe they are not allowed to rent out part of their home. I think it needs to be made clear that taking in a lodger is very different from sub-letting and it may be an option that some may be prepared to consider. The important thing is, to act now and not leave it until the benefit is cut.

Brenda Futers

Chairman Skegness Labour