Monday 4th March 2013

The Government’s efforts to help vulnerable people who will be hit by the bedroom tax are falling far short of what is needed, new research has revealed.

The National Housing Federation (NHF) says that hundreds of thousands of disabled people will be left struggling to make ends meet when the new rules come into effect in April.

The fund for Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) 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.

But the NHF has discovered that the mismatch between what the Government is taking away in housing benefit and what the DHP can help offset has left a gap of over £100m in benefits being taken away from disabled people.

The NHF’s research 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.

There are around 230,000 disabled people receiving DLA who the NHF says will lose an average of £728 each per year in housing benefit.

David Orr, NHF chief executive, said: “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.”