Teamwork helps welfare worries

Motherwell and Wishaw CAB team, with manager Audrey Cuthbertson centre of front row, are ready to help  on problems related to the Bedroom Tax.

Motherwell and Wishaw CAB team, with manager Audrey Cuthbertson centre of front row, are ready to help on problems related to the Bedroom Tax.

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People who have been affected by what has become known as the Bedroom Tax are being urged to seek help from the Citizens’ Advice Bureaux in Motherwell and Bellshill.

Many people had their incomes cut following welfare reform and are finding it difficult to meet household commitments.

Audrey Cuthbertson, CAB manager at Motherwell and Wishaw, said: “There is assistance available for everyone affected by the Bedroom Tax through the Scottish Government’s help scheme aimed at ensuring that no one loses the roof over their head. But you can only get this help by contacting North Lanarkshire Council’s First Stop Shop or council (advice service) partners such as Citizen Advice Bureaux.”

One person who has benefited from this help is Pauline Strain, of Bellshill. Pauline (41), who is disabled , was deemed to have two surplus rooms and was penalised by 25 per cent of her housing benefit. It was all the more upsetting for her as she has lived in this family home since childhood.

Pauline explained: “I was really worried that this unfair charge would mean me leaving the family home because I couldn’t pay the rent so I contacted my local CAB for advice. Through them, I’m now being helped financially to meet the costs of the Bedroom Tax by a Discretionary Housing Payment from the council. Anyone who is a similar position should contact the council or CAB for help.”

The Bedroom Tax affects more than 5,000 people locally and North Lanarkshire Council’s housing services team has contacted all affected households, carrying out 3,000 visits, and many now receive discretionary housing payments.