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Soldiers' mother welcomes bedroom tax "u-turn"
8:00am Wednesday 13th March 2013 in News
A MOTHER of two teenage North-East soldiers about to be hit by the so-called ‘bedroom tax’ told of her joy last night (Tuesday, March 12) after a surprise government U-turn.
Alison Huggan, from Coulby Newham, Middlesbrough, faced a £100 monthly loss of housing benefit from next month, because she was deemed to have spare rooms.
And her 18-year-old twins, Anas and Aaron – who are serving in Germany and Cyprus – would have been left with nowhere to sleep, after she was urged to move to one-bedroomed home.
The case, revealed by The Northern Echo, was raised in the House of Commons by Labour leader Ed Miliband – when David Cameron insisted the changes were “fair”.
Now, in a hurried U-turn, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has announced that armed forces personnel will be exempt from the bedroom tax, if living with their parents.
As controversy about the shake-up grows, Mr Duncan Smith also lifted the threat of benefit cuts from 5,000 approved foster carers and from households with severely disabled children.
Last night, Alison, a volunteer worker with Durham Tees Valley probation trust and a graduate in criminology, said: “I’m absolutely ecstatic.
“I have lived in this community for 30 years, and worked in the area as well, so it means so much to stay. My roots are here.
“My boys don’t know yet, because they are serving abroad, but they will be delighted as well, because this is also their community.
“But it feels wrong that we have been put through this trauma and I know this is horrendous for a lot of other people who are affected by the bedroom tax. I really feel for them.”
The shake-up will penalise social housing tenants with spare rooms, cutting benefit by 14 per cent for an extra bedroom and 25 per cent where there are two spare rooms.
Threatened with losing more than £1,000 a year, Alison approached a housing association about moving to a one-bed home, but had yet to find one.
One of the strongest criticisms of the change is that there are no smaller homes for 95,000 affected families in England, with the North-East the hardest-hit area.
Tom Blenkinsop, the Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP, welcomed the U-turn – but insisted “the fight will continue” for all others hit by the bedroom tax.
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