Housing boss: Thousands will be out of pocket

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LEADING figures from across the borough have urged a rethink on the government bedroom tax.

Deputy council leader Barrie Grunewald called the new Welfare Reform Bill “shameful”, while Rob Young, chief executive of the town’s biggest housing association, Helena Homes, told how thousands of tenants would be adversely affected.

Helena - which provides countless households in St Helens and Newton - say 2,789 Helena tenants who will be classed as under-occupying their homes from April. Of those, 2,027 tenants will be under-occupying by one bedroom, while 762 tenants will be under-occupying by two-bedrooms.

The introduction of the bedroom tax will see these tenants need to find a combined extra of £2.3m a year.

Mr Young said: “We’ve been working with local partners and politicians to highlight the serious impact of welfare reform in St Helens and been to the House of Commons to deliver our stark message directly to Government Ministers.

“The limited number of one and two bedroom properties available means finding a smaller home for the 2,789 Helena tenants who need one is quite simply a challenge we can’t meet.”

Coun Grune-wald added: “The people affected by the bedroom tax are not shirkers lazing around behind closed curtains, living a life on the dole with acres of spare room they don’t need, but are dedicated parents of children at university, or in the army, or who live with them for only half of the week, or hard-working people on low earning.

“What is so cruel about this policy is that it aims deliberately to drive poor people further into hardship. The Lib Dems and Tories should be ashamed.”