TENANTS in social housing who have extra rooms are being asked to make a contribution in the same way as tenants in the private sector so that the system, as a whole, is fair on everyone,” said Sunderland Conservative leader Coun Robert Oliver.
“In the private sector, housing benefit only covers the rooms people need and any extra rooms have to be paid for by the individual which is unfair on those tenants.
“The proposals aim to tackle the problem of over-occupancy, with more than 800 families in Sunderland living in crowded accommodation and waiting for more suitable housing.
“This situation will naturally cause distress on a daily basis with children having to share rooms, and a lack of space and privacy generally in such housing.
“No one is being asked to move home, simply to accept a reduction in benefits for rooms that are considered extra, though many people are exempt from the measures such as the elderly and carers.
“In addition there is £275million in extra housing payments to support housing benefits claimants which can be used at the discretion of the council to support the most vulnerable.
“And the Homeswap Direct mutual exchange scheme allows social tenants to move home, should they choose, without losing their security of tenure.”