A “technical error” in legislation has resulted in social housing tenants being exempted from the bedroom tax and eligible for a refund.
The exemption applies to tenants who have been continuously claiming housing benefit from before 1 January 1996 and have lived at the same address.
A Department for Work and Pensions ‘urgent bulletin’ instructed councils that tenants meeting specific criteria should have their bedroom tax cut removed. Councils should also refund deductions since April 2013.
In West Lancashire an estimated 150 tenants are affected by this error although no final figure has been reached as the council continues to review their records. It is understood those tenants affected will be contacted by West Lancashire Borough Council but no timescale in which this will happen as been confirmed.
Rosie Cooper MP and Councillor Neil Furey have both been campaigning to get the bedroom tax repealed as it is unfair and unworkable.
MP Rosie Cooper said:
“Suspending the bedroom tax cuts for some tenants is just the latest example of how this policy is unfair, unworkable and a complete failure.
“Due to the inability of the Department for Work and Pensions to introduce this policy properly it has put West Lancashire families under severe financial pressure unnecessarily. For many of these families they will have struggled to make ends meet because of this error.
“From the very outset this policy has been a botched job. There are not the appropriate sized properties available for people to downsize to make this policy work. Instead it is an easy way to cut budgets, not caring about the human consequences for some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.
“Instead of closing the loophole the Department for Work and Pensions would be better off scrapping the Bedroom Tax altogether.
MP Rosie Cooper was supported in her position by Bedoom Tax campaigner and Skelmersdale North Councillor, Neil Furey, who said:
“Tenants have suffered greatly from the rotten Bedroom Tax and any tenants who have had wrongly deducted Housing Benefit should quickly have their case reviewed and every penny refunded.
“In the meantime West Lancashire Borough Council should stop court action against any tenants in rent arrears as a direct consequence of this error.
“The Conservative-led Government’s policy is hurting and not working. I agree with Rosie Cooper they should do the decent thing and repeal the Bedroom Tax.”