Anti-Bedroom Tax campaigner Peter Barker has discovered a major loophole in the legislation.
He found that any tenant whose housing benefit claim for a property dates from 1996 or before should not be liable for the Bedroom Tax, even according to the government’s own legislation.
His blog post on this was widely read, and lead to the government telling councils and housing associations to pay back the rent claimed for the so-called “spare room”. This should affect about 40,000 tenants (still less then a tenth of those hit by this policy). The government is now moving to try to close the loophole and force those tenants to start paying the Bedroom Tax again from March.
One particularly horrifying aspect of the policy is that after three months of a family member in the house dying, their family can be liable for paying the Bedroom Tax on their room. The family of Cornwall teenager Caleb Hollow, who died in December 2012, kept his room as part of their grieving process, but will now have to move house or stump up extra money for rent.
The Labour Party has come out against the Bedroom Tax nationally, but the vast majority of Labour-controlled local councils which control their own council housing are still imposing the Bedroom Tax.
Councillors Against Cuts have put out a statement for Labour councillors to sign which calls for councils to side with tenants and refuse to implement the policy.