Sunday, May 19, 2024

Thurrock Tories hail new benefits changes..and demand Labour stop scaremongering

VULNERABLE residents in Thurrock have been protected as the Government’s welfare reforms come into effect say the Thurrock Conservative group.

Among a number of changes introduced from Monday 1st April is an end to the “spare bedroom benefit”, where council house tenants are entitled to claim housing benefit for spare rooms they do not need or rarely use. However, the Government have exempted the most vulnerable to protect them, meaning the following groups will see no change to their housing benefit:

Low-income pensioners
Children with medical conditions who need their own bedroom
Serving members of the armed forces who live at home when not away on duty
People with overnight care arrangements
The recently bereaved
The recently unemployed

Additionally, the council has £350,000 to use to protect other special cases, and has drawn up a list of people who will be exempted in Thurrock:

Pregnant tenants who will shortly need an extra room
Elderly residents within one year of state pension age
Families with children turning 16 within one year
Those with heavily adapted properties
Those agreeing to downsize in the near future

Welcoming the changes, Conservative Leader Cllr Phil Anderson said “These reforms are good news for the 5000 people on Thurrock’s waiting list. It’s just wrong that taxpayers’ money funds people to live in large council homes that they would not qualify for if they re-applied today. A heavily subsidised council home is not a gift for the lucky; it is a precious resource which should be given to the people who need it most.

“However, there are clearly a few cases where people do need an additional bedroom. Nobody would want to remove support for the disabled, families of our soldiers serving abroad, or those who have recently lost a loved one and I am pleased the Government has protected them. The council have also been given £350,000 to provide targeted support in exceptional circumstances.

“It’s time for Labour to stop scaremongering over this issue. They spent years in Government paying singles and couples to live in family homes while many families were forced to cope in overcrowded flats. These reforms will free up family homes for families whilst protecting those who need it, and are very welcome here in Thurrock.

“It’s clear Thurrock Labour still haven’t given up on the ‘something for nothing’ era they created in Government, and now they are trying to frighten vulnerable people to stir up support for a political argument they have clearly lost.”


  1. 1) Pensioners are exempt from the ‘Bedroom Tax’ – even if they are rattling around in a 3 or 4 bedroom property.

    2) Court of Appeal judgment: Burnip, Trengove and Gorry of March 2012 was appealed – the Government has decided not to persue their appeal of the decision to the Supreme Court and only disabled children that fit a very narrow category will be allowed their own bedroom – not every parent with disabled children will be allowed a seperate bedroom for them.

    3) The rules regarding overnight carers have been in place in Housing Benefit Legislation since April 2011.

    4) The statement regarding the recently bereaved is misleading. There are strict guidlines on what type of recently bereaved will be exempt from a decrease in their eligible rent. For example a couple in a 2 bedroom property will have their eligible rent restricted by 14% – if one of them dies they surviving person will still have a 14% reduction – they are not protected. However if a couple with 1 child in a 2 bedroom property and their child dies – they are protected for 52 weeks where their eligible rent won’t be restricted by 14%.
    The protection only lasts for 52 weeks.

    5) The statement regarding the recently unemployed is also misleading. The protections, that only lasts for 13 weeks, only applies if the claimant was claiming Housing Benefit. A Benefit claimant in a 2 bedroom property who is working will still have their eligible rent restricted by 14% they won’t be protected from the 14% restriction if they become unemployed as they were previously claiming Housing Benefit.

    People are not automatically exempt from the Bedroom Tax. In exceptional hardship cases the person can apply for Discretionary Housing Payments. This is a short term solution for the most needy only and won’t be somethiong that is normally paid year after year to the same person.

    People who meet the criteria set by Thurrock Council won’t be automatically exempt – they will probably have to apply for help. If they don’t apply how will the Council be able to identify those individuals who need help? And once the £350,000 has been spent then even if more needy cases come along their is no more money in the pot until the beginning of the next financial year.

    There are not enough smaller social housing properties for everyone who is over occupying to move into – and if they moved into the private rented sector the Housing Benefit bill will rocket as private rented property is more expensive so Housing Benefit pays more than the lower cost social housing.

    Many of those impacted by the Bedroom Tax are disabled or have disabled children but don’t meet the limit criteria for an additional bedroom.

  2. No 5 should read:-

    5) The statement regarding the recently unemployed is also misleading. The protections, that only lasts for 13 weeks, only applies if the claimant WASN’T claiming Housing Benefit. A Benefit claimant in a 2 bedroom property who is working will still have their eligible rent restricted by 14% they won’t be protected from the 14% restriction if they become unemployed as they were previously claiming Housing Benefit.

    So basicaly the 13 week protection only applies if that person wasn’t previosuly claiming Housing Benefit.

  3. Don’t disagree with the above. It’s a silly law that needs to be looked at again. It is only an extension of what the Labour party brought in for private rented tenants and I still don’t se why they are less deserving than social housing tenants.

    One question though. Why does the Thurrock Labour party refuse to consider affordable rents as a way of raising millions of pounds a year to build new housing and probably solve this problem at the same time. They never built social housing while they were in power and refuse this opportunity to do that now. Why is that? Why don’t they want to build more housing when they’ve been give every opportunity to do so. Something the Labour party never even considered. How caring.

  4. My God
    Phil Anderson ,I bet all the disabled people in Thurrock agree with you? Any comment on the nearly half a million people who have signed a petition for Ian D Smith to live on £53 per week from yourself? As for your comments on disabled people soldiers carers concessions given out after public back lash your skin must be as thick as an alligators by the way where you running this year will it be down the. A 128 I definitely cannot see you staying or winning in your ward especially with your big 28 vote win I wonder if Thurrock Council has got enough one and two bedroom houses In stock so that the people who have the downsize can do so I personally cannot wait for voting time to come round to personally watch how you and your colleagues are going to try and lie and manoeuvre your way out of this, remember people especially people with not a lot of money have very long memories cannot wait to see these people repay you and your colleagues for all the kindness you have shown this and all the extras you have bestowed upon them in making their life a great deal harder and more miserable thanks Phil

  5. Just a quick note on the Discretionary Housing Payments fund – on the national level, it has been shown that the fund is £100m short so there’s no guarantee that everyone who needs help will get it.

  6. It sounds great on paper – cut benefit and force people to downsize to free up larger properties.

    Things start going wrong when there are not enough smaller social housing properties available for everyone to move into.

    But of course there is always the private rented sector isn’t there?

    Bit of number crunching and the Governments plan to save £500 million begins to unravel.

    If you are an unemployed single person over 35 in private rented accommodation Housing Benefit in Thurrock will be a maximum of £126.92 per week.

    If you are an unemployed single person in a two bedroom council property – average rent of about £90 per week – you will have your benefit cut by 14%.

    As there is a lack of 1 bedroom council properties and if that unemployed person decided to ‘downsize’ into a privately rented 1 bedroom property they will end up costing £40+ per week more in Housing Benefit.

    If everybody impacted by the bedroom tax did this then rather than saving money it will end up costing much more in extra housing benefit payments.

    The bedroom tax is a very well thought out policy.


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