Disabled people in England are still disproportionally affected by the Government’s controversial ‘bedroom tax’ policy, with nearly three in four affected homes including a person who is disabled or suffering with a long-term health condition.
Minister for Welfare Delivery Will Quince confirmed in answer to a parliamentary question that as of April 2019 240,350 households in England have seen deductions to housing benefit due to under-occupying their home.
Figures for the equivalent payment under Universal Credit are not yet available.
The policy, which is also known as removal of the ‘Spare Room Subsidy’, has faced strong criticism from campaigners and charities since it was first introduced as part of the Welfare Reform Act 2012.
According to the latest official statistics, of the 240,350 households affected by the bedroom tax as of April 2019, 37,350 (16%) had at least one person in employment and 48,350 (20%) had at least one dependent child.
However, the most shocking statistic is that of sick and disabled people who have seen rent support payments cut. Figures show that 170,360 (71%) households hit by the policy had at least one person in receipt of sickness or disability benefits.
This includes disability living allowance, personal independence payment, employment and support allowance, incapacity benefit, or severe disablement allowance.
Ken Butler, welfare rights and policy adviser at Disability Rights UK (DRUK), said the figures show why bedroom tax needs to be scrapped.
“These latest figures show yet again that disabled people are worst affected by bedroom tax and welfare reforms”, he said.
“New research published just this month shows that nearly half of disabled people hit by the benefits freeze have gone without essentials such as food and toiletries.
“The bedroom tax and other changes to the welfare system over the past decade have left disabled adults four times worse off financially than non-disabled adults.
“Discretionary Housing Payments are not the answer. They are insufficiently funded and create a postcode lottery for disabled people.
“The solution is the removal of the bedroom tax itself.”