Disabled tenants come off worse in bedroom tax DHP lottery
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government, Communities, Finance
50,000 North East families hit by ‘bedroom tax’
Social housing tenants hit by the government's controversial bedroom tax have wildly varying chances of receiving financial help, with almost a third of disabled people refused support.
Freedom of information requests by the National Housing Federation sent to every English council show that while demand for discretionary housing payments (DHPs) has nearly tripled in 2013, tenants in some parts of the country have a very slim chance of being helped.
In its first six months, seven in 10 tenants struck by the widely hated under occupancy penalty who applied for a DHP received one. However, in parts of North Yorkshire this fell to just two in 10, while in Wandsworth, Wokingham and Sunderland only three in 10 were granted DHP support.
Though the government has repeatedly claimed that DHPs will protect the most vulnerable from the bedroom tax, the NHF found that disabled victims are facing even greater uncertainty, despite the fact that two thirds of people affected by the policy are disabled – approximately 420,000 people, according to government estimates – and despite the government earmarking part of the fund specifically for disabled people.
Across England, nearly a third (29%) of those disabled tenants affected who applied for support were turned down – more than 3,800 people from the 98 local authorities who provided information.
Their likelihood of getting help was even lower in some areas, with just one in 10 disabled people successful in parts of Kent and less than three in 10 successful in North East Derbyshire, Basildon, Rotherham and parts of Lancashire.
These findings come after a previous NHF survey showed that more than half of those hit by the bedroom tax are in rent arrears.
The survey also found that:
• The North East saw the biggest rise in demand for DHPs, with applications up 482% on average compared to 2012.
• The East Midlands and North West saw the second and third largest spikes in demand, with applications up 326% in the East Midlands compared to 2012, and 302% in the North West.
NHF chief executive David Orr said: “Whenever ministers are challenged on the bedroom tax, they tell us vulnerable people are not at risk because of these discretionary housing payments. But many disabled people and vulnerable families are facing miserable odds of getting help.
“Even those who are lucky enough to get support will have to reapply time and time again, each time facing the stress and worry that the funds will be withdrawn, while councils are being inundated with applications.
“This support fund is ineffective and deeply unfair – just like the bedroom tax itself. The only real solution is to repeal it.”
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