Oxfam report shows poorest households in Essex now pay more

08:33 22 April 2014

Some of the poorest households in Essex are paying at least £20 extra a week because of the so called ‘bedroom tax’, a national charity has warned today

The report by Oxfam and the New Police Institute (NPI), titled ‘Multiple Cuts For The Poorest Families’, shows that around 4,000 of the poorest households in the county are being hit by the bedroom tax; on average they are £16.40 per week worse off.

Renters in the private sector have seen their housing benefit cut too by the Local Housing Allowance. About 7,000 households in Essex have been affected. Households are losing around £8.20 a week.

There are also widespread cuts to council tax benefits.

In the UK, 300,000 households have seen a cut in housing benefit, 920,000 have seen a cut in council tax support and 480,000 have seen a cut in both.

Mark Goldring, Oxfam chief executive, said: “This is the latest evidence of a perfect storm blowing massive holes in the safety net which is supposed to stop people falling further into poverty.

We are already seeing people turning to food banks and struggling with rent, council tax, childcare and travel costs to job centres.

“At a time when the five richest families in the UK have the same wealth as the bottom 20 percent of the population it is unacceptable that the poorest are paying such a heavy price.”

Tom MacInnes, research director at NPI and report, author said: “There are two parts to the safety net. One is the means-tested cash benefit such as jobseeker’s allowance, which is rising by less than prices. The other is the benefits that help pay for specific unavoidable costs. This is where cuts have been targeted and where the greatest damage to the safety net is being done.”

The so-called bedroom tax reduces peoples’ housing benefit depending on how many spare bedrooms are in the household.

The charity has called on the Government to determine what the absolute minimum level of support should be for households in different circumstances.

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