Monday, 02 March 2015

Mixed-aged couples with one housing benefit claimant will be exempt

Government backtracks on pensioner bedroom tax

The Department for Work and Pensions has pledged to protect some of the pensioners that could be hit by the bedroom tax.

Inside Housing last week revealed thousands of pensioners could be affected by the bedroom tax - even though the government had previously maintained it would only affect benefit claimants of working age.

The DWP last week stated that mixed-age couples, where one is under and one over pension credit age, will be hit by the bedroom tax when it is rolled into the new universal credit from October if they are currently claiming benefits.

However the department this week backtracked and said it will ensure existing mixed-age claimants, of which the Chartered Institute of Housing calculates there are 67,000, are fully protected from having to pay the tax. A DWP press officer said its previous statement had been inaccurate. He put this down to ‘crossed wires’ and apologised for being misleading.

Sam Lister, policy and practice officer at the CIH, said: ‘We are pleased that people won’t be pushed backwards on to the bedroom tax, it would have created confusion and led to people being exempt when the tax comes in and then being affected at a later stage.’

Thousands of new, older claimants - pensioners who are in ‘mixed-age’ couples claiming benefits for the first time under universal credit - will, however, still be hit by the penalty. They will have to wait until both reach pension age to be exempt from the bedroom tax.

Mr Lister said the government had been ‘disingenuous’ to claim the policy only affects people of working age.

There is also confusion over how mixed-age couples whose circumstances change will be affected. A DWP spokesperson said the department will publish more detail on this shortly.

Under the bedroom tax social housing households with spare rooms will have their benefit reduced from 1 April. The policy is expected to affect 660,000 households, who will lose an average of £12 per week from their benefit if they have one spare room and £22 if they have two or more, according to DWP estimates.

A spokesperson for the DWP said: ‘We want to reassure pensioners that they will not be affected by this policy now, or when moving from housing benefit onto universal credit, even if one partner is below pension age.’

The bedroom tax: who’s affected?

  • Social housing tenants of working age will lose £12 on average a week from their benefit if they have one spare bedroom or £22 per week for two or more spare rooms
  • Mixed-age couples (with one partner of pension age and one under) which include an existing housing benefit claimant will not be affected
  • New universal credit claimants of mixed-age will be affected by the bedroom tax until both parties reach pension age

Readers' comments (10)

  • michael barratt

    Article 25 of the United Nations Bill of Rights:

    Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

    Every recipient of social benefits receives a letter from the Department of Work and Pensions detailing their benefits' entitlement that is headed with the following words:

    "This is the minimum amount of money the Government says you must have each week taking account of specific circumstances."

    Since the above statement does not taken into account the bedroom tax, Councils imposing this fine on innocent tenants, will leave those affected with less than the minimum amount of money the Government says they must have each week. Surely they must be in breach of their tenants' human rights?

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  • Georgina Goldsmith

    Keep Discriminations one set of human being against another set of human being and your have a war on your hands. I hope the EU kick you hard and the National Tenant and Residents Association take the Goverment to court.

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  • Chris

    Even Michael Heseltine agreed that the demonisation stories were dividing society instead of curing the problems, explaining too that the global economy is beyond individual national resolution. Indeed, with the exception of the Daily Mail columnist that view was across the board on the last edition of BBC Question Time - perhaps the agenda is beginning to move and the mindless fascist are being sidelined. I do hope so, but will not be convinced until Micheal's party stops having such a person as Party Chair.

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  • Rick Campbell

    Salford CAB ?@SalfordCAB

    Despite BBC coverage last night, DWP issued tweet saying no plans to re-think bedroom tax.

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  • 'DWP issued tweet saying no plans to re-think bedroom tax'

    Is that like the football manager that has the full confidence of the board ?

    Bedroom Tax is already history - it will be introduced - there will be an avalanche of unintended consequenses - the retoxification of the Blues will be complete and the yet another u-turn.

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  • Joe Halewood

    Getting back to the article which if you read it carefully reads like the DWP have been watching too much of The Thick of It reveals one and only one point. The government were and are planning to apply the bedroom tax to mixed-age pensioner couples when all along they said this was only applied to working-age and pesnioners were exempt.

    They deliberately misled and now are backpeddling furiously.

    You know when a child tells a little white lie, then an even bigger one to cover it up, then an even bigger one to cover the last one up.....

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  • The con dems are pushing the pension age upto 67 !!!!!
    and so are then able to proclaim that they are not attacking
    pensioners with these cuts !

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  • All thanks to Ian Duncan Smith the snot-nosed Tory swindler. His caring consideration towards the unemployed knows no bounds. One huge problem, the unlovely Osbourne has so mucked up Britian's finances that I see ever more tenants evicted from their homes, leading to steets and streets full of families living in doorways. Not a very nice idea is it, far easier to imagine Osbourne sacked for his mishandling of this country's finances, At least the dodgey bankers received their cards and a nasty reprimand. Osbourne, Clegg, IDS and Cameron get nothing but free TV time, where they can spout all their lies about immigrants going home and the ULTIMATE untruth about lower unemployment figures. Somtimes, it seems as though no one in that Tory party can add 2+2 together!

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  • My daughter said that she heard on TV that bedroom tax cannot be charged for rooms less than 170 sq ft. Did anyone else hear this?

    It beggars belief that this Tory government can be so lacking in any feeling towards those that are unfortunate enough to live in social housing and have a spare bedroom. If they had designed a parallel policy to charge heavily to all households that are privately owned, for their empty bedrooms perhaps people would see that they were operating to all sections in society. I am sure that the rich have far more spare rooms that those of us living in social housing.

    Everyone needs to ensure that they vote them out at the next election. Thats if they are not chased out sooner by all those that are currently suffering the affects of all their new policies to keep everyone who is not relatively well off ..poor.

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  • Am a single father with no help from any one they seem to be no help out there for single fathers because they are classed as single people. A am one of the fathers with a good access to my son and still have to pay for my sons bedroom when am on JSA how is that right a dont get any other benefits for my child but a have to look after him with no money coming in and again no help any where for fathers which are gust trying to look after there family what is left of it. why cant a get some child benefit and working tax credits which would help fathers back to work. a cant aford to even attend an intervew these days because my extra money gos to the bedroom tax so how would a get a job?

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