The Tories are to name and shame councils who fail to use Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) to help disabled people hit by the hated ‘bedroom tax’.
Minister for Disabled People, Mark Harper, made the pledge following a question from Labour MP John Speller, who said 68% of households affected by the controversial government policy included a person who is disabled.
Mark Harper insisted the ‘bedroom tax’ was about “fairness” in bringing the social housing sector more inline with the private sector, while insisting that councils had been awarded £345 million to help vulnerable and disabled people affected by the policy.
Conservative MP Philip Hollobone suggested the government should “name and shame the five worst local authorities” – councils who are not using DHPs to help disabled people forced to accept a cut in their Housing Benefit.
Mr Harper responded: “It is a very good idea. I will write to him with the information and put a copy in the Library of the House.”
He added: “We do have records of the amount of money that the government make available to local authorities.
“In the interests of transparency, I will put in the Library details of the money made available by the government and the extent to which local authorities take up that generous allocation of funding.”
Social housing tenants affected by the ‘bedroom tax’, or under-occupation penalty, must contribute toward their rent – through a deduction in the Housing Benefit – or downsize to a smaller property.
However, opponents say disabled people have been disproportionately affected by the damaging policy. And that a shortage of suitable smaller properties means those affected are trapped in their homes and forced to accept a significant cut in their Housing Benefit.
Opponents also argue that adapting one and two bedroom properties, to suit the needs and requirements of a disabled person, would come at significant cost to local authorities.
Labour say they would axe the ‘bedroom tax’ if they win an outright majority in the next general election. The policy has been effectively scrapped in Scotland, where the Scottish Government use DHPs and additional cash to pay the ‘bedroom tax’ on behalf of affected households.