Thursday, 9 January 2014

Department for Work and Pensions admit that some tenants are exempt from the Bedroom Tax

Mick Lerry joins anti bedroom tax protestors as they present
their 1,000 name petition to Sedgemoor
Welfare rights workers have discovered a legal loophole that could mean thousands of people are exempt from the hated bedroom tax and the Department for Work and Pensions have sent out a recent Bulletin informing Councils of the loophole.

Bridgwater Parliamentary Candidate Mick Lerry says "Labour is urging district councils in Somerset to make sure people here are not being wrongly charged. Tenants who have lived in the same house or flat since January 1996 – and have claimed Housing Benefit throughout that time – are the ones who could benefit.The reasons are complicated. They have to do with the rules that govern the “eligible rent” for social housing. "

 Wrongly Charging people

Some councils are already admitting that they have been wrongly charging people since April 2013. In the South-West, Exeter City Council has begun sending letters to tenants it believes should be exempt.  

 The numbers involved are not huge - Exeter estimates the exemption will only help 4 per cent of tenants. But for those people, not having to pay this unfair tax will be a significant help.

 Mick Lerry, who is also the Leader of the Labour Group on SDC  said: “We have argued all along that the bedroom tax is an unjust attack on people with low incomes. It is very good news that a minority of tenants seem to have legal protection".

Mick also said: "On the 8th January Sedgemoor District Council debated a petition regarding the Bedroom Tax and I have also asked a revenue Officer as to how the council will respond to the recent announcement from the Department of Work and Pensions, to repay those tenants who are exempt from the Bedroom Tax".

I hope that West Somerset and other district councils across Somerset will follow the example of Exeter in examining how many tenants should be exempt and making sure they get their money back.”

(The Bedroom Tax is a reduction in Housing Benefit, which affects people who the government says have “spare” bedrooms in their homes. Social housing tenants lose 14 per cent of their Housing Benefit if they have one extra room; 25 per cent of they have two or more. Although the Bedroom Tax is a central government policy, it is administered by district councils)


Cllr Mick Lerry


Leader of the Labour Group on SDC

Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Bridgwater and West Somerset



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