Government admits penalty will affect couples if one partner is of working age
15/02/2013 | By Carl Brown, Inside Housing
More than 67,000 pensioners could be hit by the bedroom tax – despite the government’s insistence the controversial policy will only apply to people of working age.
Exclusive research carried out by the Chartered Institute of Housing for Inside Housing shows there are 67,000 households on housing benefit where one partner is over pension age and one is under.
Although these people won’t be hit by the under-occupation penalty, commonly known as the bedroom tax, from 1 April, they will be hit by the penalty when they move on to the new universal credit after October.
An impact assessment published by the Department for Work and Pensions last June said couples will remain on universal credit, which applies to working-age households, until both members of the couple reach pension age. The bedroom tax, under which social housing tenants will have their benefit cut if they have a spare room, will apply to all universal credit claimants.
Gavin Smart, policy and practice director at the CIH, described the findings as ‘extremely worrying’.
He said: ‘The government needs to make sure these people are protected as the transition to universal credit takes place.’
A DWP spokesperson confirmed such ‘mixed-age’ couples will be affected when they transfer to universal credit between October 2013 and 2017. He also said the younger person in the couple will benefit from ‘work incentives’ through universal credit.
Meanwhile, activists in Liverpool have been encouraging people to protest outside the offices of social landlords about the bedroom tax.
Last Thursday protestors targeted Liverpool Mutual Homes while protests will take place outside the offices of One Vision Housing on 28 February and West Lancashire Council on 25 February.
Neil Furey, a Labour councillor at Conservative-led West Lancashire Council who is backing the protests, said landlords should be doing more to help people affected by the bedroom tax cope, such as putting together hardship funds to help people pay their rent.
An internet blog called Combat the Bedroom Tax suggests people refuse to pay the shortfalls caused by the policy.
what happens to those in the grey area who are currently on Pensions credit until reaching full retirement age?
Currently ‘mixed age’ couples (i.e. one under pension age) do not have to pay the bedroom tax. But when Universal Credit is bought in, if one is under pension age then they will have to pay it. The situation is complicated by the fact that UC is being ‘staggered’ in over a number of years.
I have been told by some that those already on Pension Credit won’t be affected unless they make a new claim after April. another told me that as my husband was born before 1951 we would be exempt. Nobody seems to know for sure I just spoke to the DWP and even they say the rule haven’t been sorted yet so seems still a lot of campaigning to do!
Welfare secretary Iain Duncan Smith has instructed officials to “look again” at how the bedroom tax will affect disabled people, the BBC has been told.
thanks but that still doesn’t clear up the age related question as to the cut of point for claims. ie are they going to say anyone born before April 1951 won’t be affected which is what I heard.
Government backtracks on pensioner bedroom tax
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
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.
oops, ignore wording (off topic) on my last comment
Salford CAB ?@SalfordCAB
Despite BBC coverage last night, DWP issued tweet saying no plans to re-think bedroom tax
1. DWP Press Office @dwppressoffice
No change in spare bedroom policy. As with all reforms, we will monitor closely as it comes in this April
10:49 a.m. – Feb 21, 2013 •
So as usual its clear as mud. Even the DWP don’t know. I sometimes wonder if they do this deliberately to make it harder for us to fight back against them!
I think it’s a case of the Minister – IDS – vacillating all over the place. Finally the government is feeling the pressure.
Let’s hope so. also let’s hope the march on May 4th is bigger than ever.
Man the barricades.