NO council tenant will be evicted from their home because they can’t afford to pay the so-called 'bedroom tax', the leader of Darlington Borough Council has pledged.

Bill Dixon said there was “no need” for anyone to lose their home as a result of the changes to housing benefit, but warned people not to put their head in the sand and to ask for help before getting into financial difficulty.

Plans by the Government reduce housing benefits for anyone of working age living in social housing who are deemed to have excess bedrooms have sparked protests from those who believe the proposal is an attack on the poorest in society.

Dozens of people attended a march through Darlington town centre at the weekend, including Coun Dixon.

He has urged anyone affected by the housing benefit changes to contact the council as soon as possible if they think they might struggle financially when they come into force in April.

Coun Dixon said: “There’s no need for any council tenant to be evicted as a result of the bedroom tax. I want people to contact the council as soon as it becomes apparent that they are affected and we will help them work out a plan to pay what they can afford.

“We can find ways round helping people, but if they ignore it there’s very little we can do.”

“For those who can pay, but simply won’t, there’s nothing we can do to help them further down the line.

“Those in genuine hardship must talk to us.”

Coun Dixon said he was hearing from two or three people a day who were desperately worried about their finances.

He added: “We are going to get a lot more people affected by this than the Government think – this is bigger than they realise.

“It’s in danger of destroying families.”

Coun Dixon has advised tenants with concerns to contact their area housing officer or the council’s housing department for advice.

The Government has defended what it calls the 'spare room subsidy', saying it will tackle a shortage of social housing and save taxpayers about £500m a year.

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