No council tenant to be evicted over bedroom tax

A council has declared that none of its social tenants will be evicted if they cannot afford to pay the government's forthcoming bedroom tax.

Brighton & Hove City Council has become the first local authority in the country to take such a stance.

Councillor Liz Wakefield said: "The so-called 'spare room subsidy' is yet more immoral and harmful legislation from this morality-free coalition government.

"As Greens, we cannot throw people out onto the streets just because they're unable to pay it. I will therefore be bringing proposals that seek to ensure no household will be evicted from a Brighton and Hove City Council owned home as a result of ‘spare room subsidy’ rent arrears accrued solely from that household's inability to pay this unjust bedroom tax."

She added that steps would be taken to ensure that tenants don't take advantage of the proposals, and that officers would have to be satisfied that those pushed into arrears by the bedroom tax were doing everything they could to pay their rent.

Brighton Pavilion MP, Caroline Lucas, is also backing the proposals. She said: "The so-called bedroom tax legislation is not only morally wrong and a cause of great potential hardship, it is also unworkable in a city with a long waiting list for smaller properties.

"The council cannot downsize households on the scale required by the government, nor would we want it to, and we should not be prepared to evict hard-pressed families, the disabled and other vulnerable people purely because they are unable to pay this unjust levy on a home they either cannot or should not have to leave.”

Chair of Brighton & Hove Green Party, Rob Shepherd, said: "This government is willing to see people thrown out onto the streets purely because they can't pay their bedroom tax.

"They can be sentenced to homelessness simply for trying to maintain a normal, liveable family home. The Conservative and LibDem coalition government should be ashamed of itself and, as Greens, we will have no part of it.

"I congratulate the party and councillors who are taking such a principled stand. We call on the other parties to support us in protecting, in this way, some of our most vulnerable residents."

Meanwhile, the Scottish government has urged landlords to take all reasonable steps to avoid evicting tenants over the bedroom tax.