124 families in Westminster hit by the Bedroom Tax have wrongly had money deducted from their Housing Benefit because of a Government bungle and are owed over £700 each.
Westminster Council officers have told Councillors;
“In January 2014, the DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) announced that tenants whose tenancy commenced before 1st January 1996 and have received HB continuously should not be affected by the under occupation cap. Analysis confirms that there are 124 under occupation cap cases that qualify for the “1996” exemption. The benefits team are now organising their re-assessment.”
Since 1st April 2013, families hit by the bedroom tax have had their housing benefit reduced by 14% of their rent if they have one spare room and 25% of their rent if they have two or more spare rooms. A family with one spare room has lost £18 a week since 1st April – over £700.
There are currently 382 families in Council flats who are hit by the Bedroom Tax and the Council has moved just 48 families to smaller flat in the nine months from April – December 2013 – a rate of less than 6 families a month.
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Leader of the Labour Group, said;
“This huge Government bungle has cost 124 of the most vulnerable families in Westminster over £700 each, some of whom are now in rent arrears or have had to cut down on essentials in order to pay the new tax. The Bedroom Tax has caused nothing but misery and the sooner it is scrapped the better. “