Disabled people in Swansea and Carmarthenshire say they are set to suffer because of 'bedroom tax'
HUNDREDS of people concerned about the impact of the "bedroom tax" have turned to their MPs for help.
Constituency offices have been inundated with letters, phone calls and emails in the build up to the changes to housing benefit.
Sian James said staff at her Swansea East constituency office had received a stream of calls from people facing losing as much as £700 a year in welfare benefits.
The Government scheme is intended to tackle under- occupancy in social housing. Families' benefit payments will be reduced for each under-occupied bedroom. But Mrs James said the scheme was turning into a blunt instrument to attack the most vulnerable in the community.
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"The majority of the households affected who have come to us have a family member with a disability," she said.
"In one case, a family whose council home was specially converted to create a downstairs facility for their severely disabled daughter now stands to lose £14 a week because they have an unused upstairs bedroom."
Mrs James also pointed out that Swansea had a "chronic shortage of one and two bedroom homes". Estimated figures varied but Mrs James said she was meeting local housing officials to discuss the issue. "Hopefully, we can get a better idea of the scale of the problem faced by councils and social housing providers. My fear though is that they will not be able to cope," she added.
Jonathan Edwards, Plaid MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, has also been helping constituents, including one man who has converted a spare bedroom into a sterile room for dialysis, who now faced a benefits cut. He said: "Another of my constituents was moved from a two bedroom into a three bedroom property because it already had the necessary adaptions in the house. That constituent will now face additional charges. It is fundamentally unfair that these constituents will now face cuts to their housing benefit."
He has been calling for rooms to be reclassified by councils, so they would not count as spare bedrooms. He added: "I've urged the county council and local housing associations to seriously consider, following legal advice, whether they are able to reclassify their housing stock to smaller properties in order to mitigate the effects."