‘Bedroom tax’ exemption extended

SHLAA

More people could be eligible for a refund on the so-called ‘bedroom tax’, following clarification provided to Liverpool City Council by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

The Government initially issued guidance which stated that people who had been in a property prior to 1996 and continuously entitled to Housing Benefit were exempt, along with those who inherited tenancies from their partner following their death.

It has now provided further information which explains the exemption also applies to other family members or relatives who took over a tenancy when the original tenant left.

To qualify the previous tenant must have left the dwelling, been imprisoned or died and the relative or family member must have claimed Housing Benefit within four weeks of this happening. More detailed information is available from the Council’s website – www.liverpool.gov.uk.

The council has contacted social landlords in Liverpool to ensure that they provide the Benefits Service with details of any tenancies which may be affected and will be examining its own records to help identify any cases.

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson, said: “We have rightly committed to supporting any Liverpool resident wrongly affected by this Government error, to make sure they get back every penny they are entitled to.

“I have been delighted with the willingness of our social landlords to work with us to identify exempt tenants.

“We have already refunded many people, and if anyone thinks they may be eligible under the revised guidance then I would urge them to come forward.

“The Government’s welfare reforms are having a devastating impact on the poorest and most vulnerable people in our society.”

More than 1,300 local people have already received awards, typically of £560 or more per claimant.

The Government’s under-occupation penalty sees benefit reductions of up to 25% for working age social housing tenants who are deemed to have more bedrooms than they need. It was introduced by the Government last year, and affects around 11,000 people in Liverpool.

Any tenant who thinks the bedroom tax exemption applies to them should talk to their landlord and let the Benefits Service know by letter, by email – Benefits.Service@liverpooldirectlimited.co.uk – or by calling the city council on 0800 0283697 (or 0151 233 3009 to avoid charges from some mobiles).

The city council is urging any residents threatened with eviction as a result of the under-occupation penalty to get in contact to see if they can make a claim for a Discretionary Housing Payment, to help them cover rent arrears.