Minister of State for Disabled People pledges to ‘name and shame’ local authorities who fail to help those hit by the bedroom tax

3 December 2014

Mark Harper, Minister of State for Disabled People, has been questioned by MPs over the 68 per cent of people affected by the bedroom tax who are disabled or living with someone who is disabled.

Harper’s response to what critics see as a controversial benefit cut which disproportionately affects disabled people, was to insist that the policy was about fairness, ‘bringing the social housing sector in line with the private rented sector’. He stated that £345 million has been allocated to local authorities in order to make discretionary housing payments (DHPs) to disabled people affected by the cut, but suggested that local authorities were failing to make these payments to support those who have been hit, reports Welfare Weekly.

Previous reports show that DHP spending varies from council to council with some councils exceeding the amount they have been allocated and putting in money from their own budgets, whilst others have failed to advise people about DHPs, perhaps due to lack of trained staff, suggests Claire Turner, director of the Landlord Information Network.

Harper has pledged to name and shame the ‘five worst local authorities’ who have failed to take up the ‘generous allocation of funding’. However questions still remain over why DHPs are not being used and whether the funds allocated are enough to support all those who are affected.

A recent report for the Guardian on the 30,000 tenant households who had been evicted by the end of September 2014, largely attributed these record levels to the bedroom tax.

Furthermore, opponents say that the shortage of suitable smaller properties, particularly for those with access and support needs, means those affected are trapped in their homes and forced to accept a significant cut in their Housing Benefit.