Disabled people short changed over bedroom tax
Tuesday, 5 March, 2013
The fund for Discretionary Housing Payments (1) (DHPs) has been given a £30m boost this year as the Prime Minister announced that the extra money would specifically ensure that the most vulnerable people are protected from the bedroom tax cuts (2). But the mismatch between what the Government is taking away in housing benefit, and what the DHP can help offset has left a staggering gap of over £100m (3) in benefits being taken away from disabled people.
Research by the National Housing Federation found that if the £30m of DHP funding was distributed equally among every claimant of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) hit by the tax, they would each receive just £2.51 per week -“ compared to the average £14 a week loss in housing benefit from the Bedroom Tax (4).
There are about 230,000 disabled people receiving DLA who will lose an average of £728 each per year in housing benefit. With the DHP fund totalling just 6% of the housing benefit cuts made by the Bedroom Tax this year “ disabled people are at the forefront of the cuts.
And 100,000 disabled people hit by the tax are living in specially adapted homes, so if they do move new homes would have to be adapted for them at a substantial cost to the public purse.
David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, says:
“This perverse tax is doing exactly what the Government promised they wouldn’t -“ hitting the most vulnerable people in our society. They are being penalised for a weak housing policy that for years has failed to build enough affordable homes and reduce the housing benefit bill.
The bedroom tax is ill-thought and unfair as thousands of disabled people will have no choice but to cut back further on food and other expenses in order to stay in their own homes. The one-size-fits-all approach takes no account of disabled people’s adapted homes, of foster parents who need rooms to take children in, or of parents sharing custody who will lose the room for their child at weekends. It is also incompetent as it will cost the nation money rather than saving it. 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.
The National Housing Federation is calling on the Government to ensure disabled people receiving DLA, and other vulnerable people, are exempt from the bedroom tax before it comes into effect on 1 April 2013.