IDS: disabled children to be protected from bedroom tax
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Central Government and also in Housing, Universal Credit
houses of parliament
Iain Duncan Smith has confirmed that disabled children will be protected from the bedroom tax.
The works and pensions secretary said during a House of Commons debate yesterday that it would be left for councils to determine whether or not a child’s disability means a household needs an extra bedroom.
Mr Duncan Smith said he would be publishing guidance for local authorities today (March 12) on how best to use discretionary housing payments to protect people from the impacts of the coming benefit changes.
From April, social housing tenants who are deemed to be under-occupying their homes will see cuts to their housing benefit.
Mr Duncan Smith said: “As the law stands, when a local authority agrees that a family needs an extra bedroom because their child’s disability means that they are unable to share, the family can be entitled to the spare room subsidy in respect of that extra bedroom. As with housing benefit claims, the determination of whether their disability requires them to have an extra bedroom is a matter for the local authority to decide with the help of DWP [Department for Work and Pensions] guidance and medical evidence.”
However, the minister was challenged by Labour’s Bill Esterson who asked: “One effect of the secretary of state’s policy is that foster carers who have a spare bedroom and are waiting for a child to be placed must move to a smaller property without the space for them to foster. Is that what he intended?”
Mr Duncan Smith said that discretionary payments of £5m had been made available for foster carers to prevent such a problem occurring.
He said: “The effect for foster carers, as we move forward, will be that they will not have to change the number of rooms or their property as they will be able to remain there and to foster. That is what the policy will be.”
Conservative MP Andrea Leadsom asked if Mr Duncan Smith agreed that it was “despicable for opposition members to be scaremongering unnecessarily and scaring people who are in a vulnerable position already” concerning the bedroom tax.
The minister agreed, saying “the opposition know what they have been about over the past few weeks. They have deliberately set about trying to confuse people with their ridiculous title. They have tried to confuse people that they will all come under this change, when only those on housing benefit will be affected, and they also seemed to indicate to many others, such as pensioners, that they were not exempt. They are exempt”.