Their younger son, aged 26, still lives at home. He has three children from a broken relationship who stay at weekends at different times, so he usually shares his room with one or two of them.
Gary and his family have lived in their present bungalow for 14 months but he has been a Sovereign tenant since 1979. Now, under the new
rules introduced on 1 April, they will be assessed by their local authority as only needing two bedrooms.
As a result, Gary will be worse off by £17 a week as his Housing Benefit is cut by 14%. He does not receive any other money from the state because
his wife is in full-time employment.
Whilst Gary’s 53-year-old wife is the main earner, their son also works. He contributes £50 a week towards the bills and has also agreed to pay an
extra £5 a week to help cover the bedroom tax.
So what does Gary think of the welfare reform changes? “It is the most ridiculous thing since the introduction of the poll tax,” he says. “We have been social housing tenants since 1979. This is the first time in 34 years that we are going over the line of what the government says is a sensible amount for living.”
Despite feeling the penalty is unfair, Mr Hughes appreciates the need to keep a roof over his head. His clear message to other residents in a similar position: “Don’t avoid paying your rent. I would not ask
anyone to put their tenancy at risk.”
Sovereign is helping residents prepare for and cope with the changes resulting from welfare reform in a number of ways. These include:
- providing general information about the changes to benefits
- contacting any household that may be affected, helping them investigate their options and providing advice
- offering a more flexible range of rent payment choices
- making it easier to exchange or transfer to a smaller home
- helping people find ways to manage their money and boost their income.