March 2013 – Under-occupation and Housing Benefit
Last week the chief executives of seven charities (Carers UK, MS Society, Mencap, Macmillan Cancer Support, Disability Rights UK, Carers Trust and Contact a Family) wrote to the Chancellor George Osborne about plans to reduce the level of benefit paid to a tenant if their home has one or more spare bedrooms.
The change affects council tenants, and those renting from housing associations, of working age who receive housing benefit (tenants in social housing will have their benefit reduced by 14% if they have a spare bedroom or 25% if they have two or more extra rooms). They expressed their concerns about the impact of the new policy on disabled people and families caring for disabled family members. Members of a household who could not share a bedroom because of a disability would be unfairly penalised.
Carers UK said "Hitting carers and disabled people with extra costs for this essential accommodation, or forcing them to move is simply wrong."
As a result Iain Duncan Smith has instructed officials to "look again" at how the "bedroom tax" will affect disabled people.However, according to the DWP press office there is, to date, no change in the spare bedrrom policy. Further changes will be posted here as soon as they are known.
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