Derek raised the issue of the bedroom tax with the Prime Minister last week, stating his concerns about the policy and asking the Prime Minister to withdraw the proposal. Derek has been contacted by many constituents on this matter.
House of Commons Debates 6 March 2013
Derek Twigg: More than 2,500 households in Halton are affected by the bedroom tax. The chief executive of the National Housing Federation said this week:
“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…homes.”
Will the Prime Minister now drop this callous policy?
The Prime Minister: Let us be absolutely clear that this is not a tax. Let me explain to the Labour party that a tax is when someone earns some money and the Government take some of that money away from them—that is a tax. Only Labour could call a benefit reform a tax increase. Let me be clear to the hon. Gentleman: pensioners are exempt, people with severely disabled children are exempt and people who need round-the-clock care are exempt. Those categories of people are all exempt, but there is a basic issue of fairness. How can it be fair that people on housing benefit in private rented accommodation do not get a spare room subsidy, whereas people in social housing do? That is not fair and we are putting that right.
However, his claim that severely disabled children, pensioners and people needing round -the -clock care are exempted has proved to not be accurate.
The National Housing Federation states that:
“Following Prime Minister's Questions today, we've looked at the claims made about who will be exempt from the bedroom tax
Below are facts, taken from information provided by the Government, showing that in certain cases they will not.
CLAIM: Disabled children are exempt from the bedroom tax
FACT: In the original bedroom tax legislation, there was no protection for disabled children who needed their own room. The Court of Appeal ruled that disabled children should be entitled to their own bedroom and not be forced to share with a sibling.
Perversely, the Government is now fighting to have this protection removed. But if the family has two extra bedrooms, the second ‘spare’ room means they will be hit by the bedroom tax anyway – even if the ruling is upheld.
CLAIM: People who need round-the-clock care are exempt from the bedroom tax
FACT: People who have non-resident carers – such as visiting care workers – may be protected if they have a spare bedroom. But there are many people who get round-the-clock care from a spouse, and because of their health, their partner needs another room to sleep in. In this situation – which is the reality for many across the country - they won’t be protected and will be hit by the bedroom tax.
If they have two spare bedrooms, the second room will mean they will get a cut to their housing benefit, regardless if they have a non-resident carer or not.
CLAIM: Pensioners are exempt from the bedroom tax
FACT: This is true of most pensioners. But mixed-age couples – where one is a pensioner and the other is not – who make a new claim for help for housing costs under the all-in-one Universal Credit benefit - will be hit by the bedroom tax.”
Derek later said:
“The bedroom tax is hitting families of soldiers serving our country who will have to find extra money for their son or daughter’s bedroom, and foster families helping children in need of a home.
It is making disabled people in council and housing association homes pay more when they need more space due to their disability.
Divorced parents whose kids come to stay are being affected. Grandparents will pay more.”