Friday, 27 February 2015

Pressure leads to bedroom tax concessions

The government has bowed to pressure over its ‘bedroom tax’ and announced plans to amend the regulations to exclude two key groups.

Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith has announced the government will be amending regulations covering its under-occupation penalty to exclude foster carers and some parents of members of the armed forces.

Foster carers will be allowed an additional room even if they are between placements, and parents who have a child in the armed forces who still lives with them when not on service will also be allowed an extra room.

The changes will apply to tenants in social and private rented housing.

Under the under-occupation penalty, widely known as the ‘bedroom tax’, social tenants of working age who are on housing benefit will have their payments cut if they have one or more spare bedrooms. It is due to be introduced on 1 April.

The government has previously said it is up to local authorities to decide if they will provide some households with support or exemptions to the charge. It has set aside £30 million of discretionary housing payments to cover this.

Mr Duncan Smith said it was always the intention that around 5,000 foster carers and ‘rather fewer’ armed forces groups would be protected through the payments. ‘We have agreed with local authority organisations improved arrangements through these regulations that puts these protections beyond doubt,’ he said.

The Department for Work and Pensions is also publishing guidance today on the use of discretionary housing payments. This emphasises the need to use payments to support disabled people and ‘those with long-term medical conditions that create difficulties in sharing a bedroom’.

Under the criteria to be used by the government, a child under the age of 10 should share with one other child, regardless of gender, and children under 16 should share if they are the same gender.

The government is currently facing a legal challenge to the bedroom tax, brought by 10 children who argue they are unable to share a bedroom because of disabilities and other issues.

David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said the exemptions do not go far enough.

‘Today’s concession is an admission that the bedroom tax is ill-thought and incompetent,’ he said. ‘The government must repeal this ill-conceived policy, but at the very least right now it must exempt disabled and other vulnerable people from these cuts.’

Readers' comments (44)

  • Rick Campbell


    DWP Press OfficeVerified account

    DWP issues guidance to LAs that a family will keep their spare room subsidy where a child's disability means they can't share a bedroom.

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  • Rick Campbell

    IDS tells ITV News: 'No climbdown' over bedroom tax

    The Government is giving councils the power to exempt severely disabled children from changes to housing benefit, rather than subsidise income through a hardship fund.

    Speaking to ITV News, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith denied the move amounts to a u-turn, and insists his department is just clarifying guidance. There is no more money to pay for it, and the changes will come out of the department's budget.

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  • Alex Brown

    DHP is only meant to be used as a stop gap measure, normally time limited, so how will new claimants fare when the existing claimants role over year after year eating up the funds before they can claim? No one has explained this to me yet despite several times of asking.

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  • Chris

    Yet at the outset when the issue for foster carers was raised IDS offered no understanding nor concenssion - at least it show he does value opinion polls - now all he needs to understand is that the 'majority in favour of these welfare reforms' are stating such based on his own party's media manipulations and warped view of the deserving and undeserving poor. Once the dead start cluttering up the streets true opinion will arise, and it will be no point blaming local councils for failing to help when their hands have been tied and funds depleted.

    On housing, on welfare, on planning, on the economy this government is failing the national interest in favour of feathering their own - yes, they are all in it together, all in it for themselves!

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  • The public perception of fairness will be severely dented when this actually kicks in in April

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  • Gavin Rider

    If this government were a house-builder, this policy would be equivalent to putting up four outer walls and plonking on a roof and claiming they had built a house, without actually putting in any foundations, drains, or interior walls.

    Now they are discovering that perhaps they needed those things and also some windows in the outer walls, so they are trying to chisel their way out of trouble.

    Next they will realise that they need some doors, and perhaps also a staircase to allow people to get up to the first floor.

    Then they will discover that they will need some wiring put in. They will probably have to undo much of the plastering they arranged as an afterthought to put the cables into the walls. Then they will have to call back the plasterers to resurface the walls.

    Ooops - forgot to put in the central heating - better rip up all the floorboards again to run the pipes.

    Damn - it needs a gas supply - better dig up the newly laid lawn in the garden to get the pipe into the house. Oh shit, now they have to chase the gas pipes into the walls too, so they had better get those plasterers back.

    Oh no! Forgot the insulation. Ah well , they can just drill into the newly rendered outside walls and pump the cavity full of foam.

    Hmmm - it seems they forgot to put a cavity in the wall...

    and the saga goes on and on.


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  • What about families that are separated or divorced and the other parent having the childern at weekends and holidays so that the children can spend time with their other parent and other siblings. It is time for this govenrnment to withdraw this illthought policy completely. There are other ways of addressing under occupancy and it is not attacking the poor. There are very few or no smaller properties available, the answer is not to build more smaller properties either as this has already proved to be unpopular. There are many reasons for needing an extra room and this should be acceptable. We just need to build more homes instead of disrupting and destoying families and communities which we have spent much time, effort and cost developing our stable and inclusive societies. Lets just get it right from now on and allocate appropriately. I believe we are comining closer to calling a vote of no confidence in this government, I think the greed at the top is having a devastating effect on the mental health and well-being of our people

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  • With more and more of the inevitable unfairness and absurdity being palmed off with the claim the DHP will sort it all out, the formula for the allocation of the £30m to each local authority becomes crucial.
    Has anyone actually seen it?

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  • sounds like a bit of a u turn to me oh well a small victory i suppose

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  • Melvin Bone

    Is the income of the son who is a soldier disregarded?

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