Changes afoot

MIDLOTHIAN Council has warned tenants that changes to housing benefits could see them pay more or even have to share their accommodation with strangers.

The local authority this week wrote to around 1,400 people who receive housing benefits, warning that they may lose out under new UK government laws.

From April 2013, people renting a property from the council or a housing association will have their housing benefit reduced if they are considered to be “under occupying” the property. They could also be forced to share their extra space with people they don’t know.

On average the changes mean tenants with extra bedrooms will have to find an additional £10 a week, as housing benefit will be only be paid for the number of bedrooms you are assessed as needing.

A council item on Facebook about the issue sparked dozens of comments left in a matter of hours.

Ashley Moore posted: “For people on a low income, finding ten pound a week could be a real challenge. I think the government needs to re think its plans.”

Jennifer Lawrie added: “You can’t expect a rented home to be a house for life. If you want a house for life then buy one. Downsizing should be compulsory once a family has been raised and all children have left home so that the next generation can raise their children. Why would you want to pay to run a house when you only use half of it?”

Read the full story in this week’s Midlothian Advertiser.