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MP calls for more exemptions to be made to new ‘bedroom tax’
8:00pm Friday 15th March 2013 in Local news
A Wharfedale MP is urging the Government to add more exemptions to its new ‘bedroom tax’.
From April, working age people renting council or housing association properties will face losing up to a quarter of their housing benefit if they are deemed to have more bedrooms than they need.
The coalition Government claims the move, part of a range of welfare reforms, could free up homes for thousands of families currently living in overcrowded conditions by effectively forcing those with too large properties to move.
But critics, including charities like Disability Rights UK, Shelter, Carers UK and Macmillan Cancer Support are warning that it will end up penalising some of the most vulnerable members of society and that there is simply not enough alternative council accommodation available.
The Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party Committee for Work and Pensions is now asking for further exemptions to be built into the benefits change, and for a full review of the policy to be carried out shortly after it takes effect.
Committee co-chairman Greg Mulholland (Lib Dem, Leeds North West) said: “There is a need to a deal with the chronic shortage of social housing that is the legacy of previous governments’ failure to deal with the problem.
“It is therefore important to encourage people who are under-occupying to move into smaller accommodation to free up desperately needed family homes.
“The current proposals, however, do not exempt some people, for example in cases where two partners have to sleep in separate rooms for medical reasons or because of a disability, or separated parents with shared custody of children, where the room is clearly being used and not spare at all.
“I hope the Secretary of State will look at this policy again as I believe there needs to be further exemptions made, and a review of the policy once it is implemented to ensure there are no unintended consequences.”