Chris Burton

Chris Burton

A UK council tenant is now hundreds of pounds in debt after Manchester council built him an extra bedroom in his home – without permission – and then slapped him with a bedroom tax.

Chris Burton, of Gunson Street, in Miles Platting is suing the council after building up arrears since the benefits shake-up.

The bedroom tax – which the government calls the ‘spare room subsidy’ – means tenants lose up to 25 per cent of their housing benefit if they have unoccupied bedrooms.

Mr Burton says he never wanted the ‘useless’ second room and said that 35 other tenants will have lost out after their homes were upgraded in 2009.

Tenants have been made to pay for the forced ‘upgrades’ to their homes, which appears to have been done as a way to charge tenants extra money each month.

Mr Burton is now appealing to a tribunal judge to rule that his benefits should be based his original tenancy agreement, which says he has only bedroom.

His problems have been compounded by his mobility issues, and he is registered disabled.

“It is unjust that I’m having to pay as if I have a two rooms, when my tenancy says that I have one. The extra room has been of absolutely no benefit to me”, he said.

Mr Burton’s flat is run by social housing group Adactus on behalf of the council.

The housing authority have claimed that they sympathise with the situation and have promised to cover the arrears until a solution is found. But Mr Burton, 41, says the council was wrong for lumping him in with those liable for the deduction and is also suing the council for £1,500 for the ‘stress and inconvenience’.

The hearing will take place at the Manchester Civil Justice Centre on October 21.

But since the case hit the headlines, the council appears to have temporarily taken a U-turn on the situation.

A council spokesperson said: “Mr Burton has submitted an appeal against his housing benefit after his claim was reassessed due to the introduction of the government’s spare room subsidy.

“We felt the circumstances that found Mr Burton at the brunt of the bedroom tax were out of his control and unfair – and we remain committed to absorbing the shortfall in his housing benefit regardless of the outcome of his appeal.”

But while the outlook may currently look a little brighter for Mr Burton, other tenants in the county who have also unexpectedly found themselves at the receiving end of a bedroom tax after being forced to have an extra room, are still being asked to pay.

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