Bedroom tax kicks in on April 1 - and it’s no hoax for local residents.

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CONTROVERSIAL plans to ‘tax’ tenants with extra bedrooms will cost a Kirkintilloch housing association over £7,000 per month, it has been claimed.

Welfare reforms being pushed through by Westminster have been roundly criticised – particularly the so-called ‘bedroom tax’.

From April 1 anyone of working age who rents a home from a local authority, housing association or registered social landlord which is deemed ‘too big’ for them will have their housing benefit cut.

New rules allow one bedroom for each person or couple living as part of the household. Tenants who have one extra bedroom face a 14 per cent cut in their housing benefit – two or more extra bedrooms and you face a 25 per cent reduction.

Stephen Macintyre, director of Hillhead Housing Association, revealed it had 127 tenants who will be affected by a housing benefit cut.

In a letter to the Herald, he asks: “What resources are being made available to assist tenants to move in the event they find a smaller home? Even if all 127 tenants who are under-occupying wished to down-size, we simply don’t have that number of houses available.

“We have 753 properties, of which only 140 are houses or flats with one bedroom. They are all let. So where do these 127 tenants move to?”

He added: “Hillhead will see a ‘loss’ of over £7,000 per month from its income, which is paid in the form of housing benefit.

“From the beginning of April, 127 tenants will be liable for either 14 per cent or 25 per cent shortfall in their housing benefit payments, placing people in even more hardship and potential debt.

“The association relies on its income to pay for the repairs and housing management service, and to fund interest payments on money borrowed to build new homes in the area.”

MP Gregg McClymont has hit out at East Dunbartonshire MP Jo Swinson over her defence of the bedroom tax.

Affected households in the Kirkintilloch East part of Mr McClymont’s constituency could lose up to £734 each year according to the National Housing Federation.

Mr McClymont said he was “astounded” be Ms Swinson’s defence of the “chaotic and downright unfair” reform.

He said: “What she fails to understand is that this policy will not magically deal with under-occupation issues, but will impose a financial burden on vulnerable people who have been in their homes for many years. There’s nowhere else for them to go.”

However, Ms Swinson retorted: “I find Mr McClymont’s double standards a bit rich. He is so outraged at council tenants being subject to the same rules on housing benefit as private tenants – rules that the last Labour Government put in place.

“For the 800 claimants on housing benefits in East Dunbartonshire who rent privately and do not receive a spare bedroom subsidy how does he justify his double standard?

“As I’ve already set out there are a number of measures to protect disabled people, families with severely disabled children and those who need overnight care.”

REFORM FURY: Coatbridge and Chryston MSP Elaine Smith recently joined a protest outside the Scottish Parliament on the bedroom tax.

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