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Dame Anne Begg: Government MPs think disabled people are exempt from bedroom tax

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Dame Anne Begg: Government MPs think disabled people are exempt from bedroom tax

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Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Central Government and also in Housing

Dame Anne Begg: Government MPs think disabled people are exempt from bedroom tax Dame Anne Begg: Government MPs think disabled people are exempt from bedroom tax

The chair of the House of Commons Work and Pensions select committee says coalition MPs are oblivious to the bedroom tax's impact on disabled people.

In an exclusive article for the 'Politics' edition of 24housing, published tomorrow (February 7), Dame Anne Begg claims the government's own backbenchers think that disabled people are exempt from paying the controversial under-occupation penalty even though the opposite is true.

She writes: "There has been an enormous outcry against the ‘bedroom tax’, even amongst those who believe that the government is right to be cutting benefits. I think this is because it is seen as unfair. It is not floor size, or bed spaces which are the determining factors, but bedrooms regardless of how small they might be.

"Many of the government's own backbenchers believe that disabled people living in houses specifically adapted for them are exempt. They aren't. They have to apply for a discretionary housing payment to make up the shortfall."

She adds: "A married couple who can't share a room because one or both of them has a disability are not exempt either. Nor are households where a family member is the full-time carer. For these households, moving is not an option, nor is increasing their income by working."

Dame Anne, the Labour MP for Aberdeen South who locked horns with Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith over the cost of universal credit earlier this week, says that even if the bedroom tax had worked perfectly, the government's own impact assessment shows that there would have been no savings.

"Those in homes deemed too large would simply move to smaller properties freeing up the larger houses for those in overcrowded accommodation, who would then qualify for more housing benefit," she writes.

"Moreover, councils and housing associations have not been building one-bed properties for years so the smaller homes don't exist in sufficient numbers. At the moment few are moving house, preferring to subsidise their housing from their other benefits. This can’t be sustainable in the long term."

Dame Anne also claims that there are a number of situations where the government's welfare reforms might even be costing the government more.

"Apart from in London, many of the people who have been caught by the benefits cap are in temporary accommodation, which by its very nature is more expensive," she writes. "Of course some of them are there because they have been evicted from cheaper accommodation due to rent arrears caused by the government's reforms."

Read Dame Anne Begg's article in full in the 'Politics' edition of 24housing out on Friday. Other contributors include Kris Hopkins, Lord Freud, Emma Reynolds, Clive Betts, Stephen Williams and Lord Matthew Taylor.

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