In a humiliating blow for both Labour and Iain Duncan Smith, the DWP has admitted that local councils will have to pay back-dated housing benefits to some families with disabled children who were hit by the private sector Bedroom Tax.
A letter from the DWP to Local Authorities published on the Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) website gives full details: http://www.dpac.uk.net/2013/03/urgent-news-for-parents-of-disabled-children-renting-in-private-sector-money-back-from-dwp/
Labour shamefully introduced the bedroom tax for private sector tenants with the emergence of the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) which replaced much of the housing benefit system. This is the same Labour who have attempted to hijack the campaign against the despised bedroom tax for social housing tenants. In at least Birmingham and Liverpool they were told exactly where to go at yesterday’s protests.
Under the LHA rules, parents with a disabled child renting in the private sector, and who needed an extra room for an overnight carer, had money deducted from payments towards rent.
Iain Duncan Smith had fought hard to try and extend this to social housing tenants as part of the latest bedroom tax. However along with other concessions to the vicious tax, which will now exempt some foster carers and parents of children in the armed forced, he recently announced a climb down.
This was not due to a sudden attack of conscience on Iain Duncan Smith’s part, or any compassion for disabled children. The change is down to a case brought before the Court of Appeal by Burnip, Trengove and Gorry last year. The judges unanimously agreed the housing benefit regulations discriminate against disabled people, because they do not allow for an additional room to be paid for where a disabled person has a carer, or where two children cannot share a room because of disability.
Iain Duncan Smith had planned to appeal the judgement to the Supreme Court, but now seems to have relented. This is hardly surprising after his workfare regulations were recently slammed by courts and judged unalwful. In the case of workfare, IDS is attempting to change history by introducing a bill before Parliament on Tuesday which will back-date the law and make a mockery of the Judiciary.
It seems that re-writing history twice in one week is too much for even the Secretary of State however and the DWP has contacted Local Authorities warning them they will have to repay some benefits reduced due to the private sector bedroom tax. This comes along with a confirmation – although the exact situation remains unclear – that some families with disabled children will not be affected by next months changes.
This will only affect a fraction of a percentage of the families who will see already meagre benefits slashed when the bedroom tax begins in just over two weeks. But for some tenants at least it is an important victory and a testament to the determination of the families who pushed the case through the courts.
It is also a timely reminder of Labour’s dirty little bedroom tax secret that they hoped we’d forget as they exploited claimant’s poverty for their own party political ends.
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