By Vivienne Russell | 4 March 2013
The discretionary fund set up to help people pay their rent once the ‘bedroom tax’ is imposed next month is more than £100m short of what is needed, according to the National Housing Federation.
Research published by the organisation today warned that ‘hundreds of thousands’ of disabled people will be left struggling to make ends meet once their Housing Benefit is reduced.
From April, Housing Benefit claimants living in homes with one spare bedroom will have their benefit docked by 14%. Those with two spare bedrooms will experience a 25% cut.
This change has been dubbed the ‘bedroom tax’ and prompted concerns that it will be unworkable in areas where there is a shortage of small, one-bedroom properties.
Although the government has given a £30m boost to the Discretionary Housing Payment fund to help people deemed to be in exceptional circumstances, the NHF said this would not be sufficient.
Its research shows that, if this £30m were shared equally between the 230,000 Disability Living Allowance claimants who will be hit by the tax, they would each receive just £2.51 a week, compared with an average £14 weekly loss from Housing Benefit.
NHF chief executive David Orr 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 failed to build enough affordable homes and reduce the Housing Benefit bill.’
He added that the bedroom tax was ‘ill thought-out and unfair’. Orr said: ‘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.’