10 Jul 2013

Bedroom tax ’causes real hardship’

 The government calls it a “spare room subsidy” – the system brought in 100 days ago to try to reduce “under-occupancy” in social housing.

Families on benefits who are deemed to have one more bedroom than they need lose 14 per cent of their income – rising to a 25 per cent cut if they have two spare rooms.

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But to opponents it has always been the “bedroom tax” – penalising some of the most vulnerable.

After watching my report on Channel 4 News, Conservative MP Andrew Selous told me an inquiry was needed into why the Rutherford family had not received help from their council in the form of a discretionary housing payment.

Mr Selous,  parliamentary aide to Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, said:  “I would like to investigate why the council didn’t give them discretionary housing payment, which we’ve trebled the amount for.

“The evidence so far is that councils have been sending back discretionary housing payment money, so I think the case from Pembrokeshire absolutely needs to be looked into.

“Last year local authorities sent back £11m of discretionary housing payment money that they weren’t able to use, so I’d like to look and see what happened in Pembrokeshire.”

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11 reader comments

  1. Liam says:

    Today I met a mother and father with three children whose benefit is being drastically cut. The options they have are to make themselves intentionally homeless so that they are given a higher priority on the local housing waiting list or move their son and two daughters into a two bedroom flat. If they are lucky they may be allocated a three bedroom home in seven years.

    The real winners of the sell off of council houses have been the landlords who are sucking out hundreds of millions of pounds of public money in housing benefits. The Tories have pulled off quite a coup in making the very poor the villains of the story.

  2. Mark Scott says:

    Typical DWP sophistry.The reason the discretionary funds were returned last year was because there was no bedroom tax last year to drain them.They must think we are all stupid.

  3. Andrew Dundas says:

    Return of the NASTY PARTY !

  4. joanna reinlo says:

    I am the owner of my bungalow but because my husband gets carers allowance as he help the carers look after me upto aprill this year wyre forest council changed the boundaries we were exempt until april 2013. my husband only gets carers allowance and income support fornightly I am serverley disabled and need 24/7 daily care . but with all benefits changes that’s this so called government is bringing through they’ve stopped to think where this is all heading and what sort of affect it will have on future generations of disabiled people.

  5. Philip says:

    If we dealt with the real beneficiaries of the benefits system – landlords and low wage employers – the taxpayer would soon see a significant reduction in benefit payments. Both use the benefits system to increase profits, whereas if employers were required to pay a living wage & landlords were prevented from overcharging, more people could afford to remain in work & the taxpayer wouldn’t be subsidizing – not “workshy scroungers” but – greedy landlords.

  6. Ian Thatcher says:

    If it is clear that disabled people should be protected then why are they not excluded from the policy in the first place? Are ministers really suggesting that they will study in depth the individual circumstances of each and every disabled person? What is this? – a nineteenth-century tsarist administration in which subjects act as supplicants to the powers that be? An awful policy from an awful administration.

  7. Linda says:

    Last years DHP has NOTHING whatsoever to do with this years, there was no reduction in housing benefit for ‘spare’ rooms last year, surely Selous can work that one out….?
    nor does he need an enquiry, the answer is quite simple,
    a/ there is nowhere near enough in the pot and
    b/ councils across the country are using disabled peoples DLA as income therefore saying they don’t need help
    add to that the results from the FOI’s we (on the Bedroom Tax Action Group) are getting in from across the country proving that there are hardly any smaller properties for tenants to downsize to and you have all the answers you need, it should NOT have been bought in reptrospectively

  8. Nicola Leigh-Lancaster says:

    I am the carer of my son who is autistic. I have lost money since he turned 20, and yet it would cost hundreds for him to go into residential.
    I think it is disgusting what the government is doing, like the family the Rutherford’s. You are under constant stress as a carer without the hassle of the bedroom tax. What do the government think, that everyone who is disabled is going to wake up one day and be okay and say, “Oh, let’s move out of this place. We don’t need the adaptions anymore”? I think it is disgusting how they can do that to this family. I know myself that with what this government is doing and the constant stress and worry about bills and debts that I have often contemplated, whether it would make the government happy if I was to end mine and my son’s life, because that would be one less disabled person, but that is without the fact that I look after my daughter who is also disabled, but lives 4.5 miles from me, because I had to move due to harassment and then they started on my daughter, so the stress of seeing to two disabled people is a nightmare, but my heart still goes out to families like the Rutherford’s and others like them, because honestly you would never want to be a carer, you would rather see your loved ones to have a normal, happy life.

  9. Caliban says:

    There seems to be an issue with terminology here.
    Tax is where you give the government money.
    Benefits are where the government gives you money.
    If the government gives you a bit less money that is not a tax.

    Thus the government reducing the amount of housing benefit they hand out, is most decidedly not a “bedroom tax”.

    Over recent years governments have been spending vast amounts of money they do not have and borrowing to make up the difference. As a result we have more people getting money from the government that there are tax payers contributing to it.

    Whenever a government attempts to control this insane spending spree, all the people living off the taxpayer start having hysterics and weeping in their beer (incidentally, paid for by those taxpayers). Channel 4 News is a complete sucker for the hard luck stories, and must spend days scraping around for a good sob story.

    The government confiscates and spends over 50% of everything this nation earns. Until that is bought under control I’m really not interested in anyone who thinks the taxpayer owes them a living.

    I posted this previously in the Fact Check blog, so apologies to anyone who has seen it before. But this seems to be a far more relevant forum for this comment.

  10. Anon says:

    If money is being sent back instead of benefitting those in need perhaps we should wonder whether the politics of the council are to blame? If money from a labour council is being sent back instead of benefitting those in need it is surely illegal and fraudulent. A careful examination of those in real need should be carried out with the returned funds being available to benefit them.

    It is my understanding that bedroom tax for the majority is to ensure that social housing recipients are not given more accommodation than they require. When so many working people struggle to rent or buy, why should benefits recipients be given more room than they need? It is hard for some, but it may well be laying the ground rules for future claimants.

    Another possibility is for those with more room to consider letting to a student. Many people do this to help with mortgage and heating etc.

  11. Lawrence Young says:

    Regarding the gentleman who has time to deliberate over word terminology the government itself is using the term under occupancy CHARGE.This might have escaped his attention.Therefore the word CHARGE can be construed with the word tax.All in all real people are suffering many disabled.This isnt a them and us situation it is shameful that disabled people are suffering over and above whatever disability they have to put up with in the first place.shame on all of us for having debates on these issues.As a society we should look after eachother and care for one another.This government is oh so clever start major reforms on health and benefits spit poisonous rhetoric blame certain parts of the community then sit back and watch us all argue with eachother all the while the attention is off them so they can carry on hurting people regardless.wake up Britain and say enough is enough.

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