VULNERABLE pensioners will be forced to find hundreds of pounds extra to stay in their assisted living homes.

Furious residents have sent a petition to Prime Minister Theresa May, the Chancellor Philip Hammond and the Echo, after a management company decided to pass on the extra staffing tax to its residents rather than absorbing the costs themselves.

About 40 residents at Coachman Court, Ashingdon Road, Rochford, have signed the petition against the extra demand.

Among them is Anthony Ascott who said: “It is an assisted living complex for pensioners and as such it requires a much larger staffing level.

“Many of our residents are old and infirm, a number with severe dementia and some as old as 97-years-old.

“We have just been informed we are having to pay VAT on staff salaries, which equates to an extra £40forty or £50fifty pounds per month per flat. Some of our residents will find it difficult, if not impossible to manage and may need to move.”

A spokesman for management agents FirstPort said: “HMRC published new guidance is that VAT should be paid on the salaries of site-based staff employed within the whole of the property management sector.

“This charge is something that FirstPort collects and pays directly to HMRC, and FirstPort does not benefit from it in any way.

“We understand that this additional cost may be unwelcome for our residents.

“However this is a mandatory requirement from HMRC, which applies to our entire industry.

“We have made our residents aware of this change and explained the impact it will have on their service charge payment.”

Due to the number of staff and the level of assistance at the complex, the VAT charges will be higher than in some other complexes, although FirstPort declined to confirm how much more.

The petition, already signed by more than half the residents, calls for these type of “property management” sites to be exempted as the people who need the most help will be hit the hardest, if companies - as FirstPort have done - pass on the extra staffing tax to residents.