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'Bedroom tax cuts will hit the disabled'
9:00am Saturday 9th March 2013 in News
Looming cuts to housing benefits will unfairly hit the disabled, a housing body has warned.
Most people who will see their benefits cut by the so-called ‘bedroom tax’ will be disabled, according to the National Housing Federation.
The federation, which represents social landlords, said that of the estimated 4,983 people in Bradford who will see their housing benefit cut from April 1, about 3,139 will have a disability.
But these figures have been disputed by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), which also said extra help was available to disabled people who needed to remain in their specially-adapted homes.
The new under-occupancy rules will affect all working-age housing benefit claimants who are deemed to have one or more extra bedrooms in their council or housing association home.
Claimants deemed to have one ‘spare’ bedroom in their council or housing association home will lose 14 per cent of their housing benefit and those with two or more will lose 25 per cent.
But Rob Warm, the federation’s lead manager for Yorkshire and the Humber, said this could unfairly hit separated parents who share the care of their children, foster carers, or disabled people who have their home specially-adapted for their needs.
He said: “The Government’s bedroom tax is flawed and will unfairly penalise thousands of people in Yorkshire and the Humber area who have lived in their homes for years, raised families and contributed to their communities.
“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.
“In most areas, there just aren’t enough smaller affordable homes for these families to move into to avoid the tax.”
He called for the Government to exempt disabled and other vulnerable people from the change before it comes into effect.
But a DWP spokesman said: “Councils have been given an extra £155 million this year so that they can help their vulnerable tenants, with £30m specifically targeted towards supporting disabled people who have modified their homes, and foster carers.
“We need to ensure a better use of social housing when over a quarter of a million tenants are living in overcrowded homes and two million are on housing waiting lists.”