A furniture giant has sparked outrage after releasing an advert which appears to mock victims of the hated bedroom tax.
The advert from Furniture Village shows an image of a bed and says customers can save £270 on a luxury mattress, adding “this should help towards the bedroom tax”.
Campaigners quickly branded the furniture giant as “insensitive”, and said the advert “perpetuated the myth” that people hit by the bedroom tax are “getting a lot in benefits”.
Tory MP Stephen McPartland, who together with his fellow Conservatives continue to defend the bedroom tax, is employed by Furniture Village as a part-time non-executive director.
Mr McPartland is said to be paid an annual salary of £42,000 by Furniture Village and failed to provide a response to the revelation, reports the Mirror.
One anti-bedroom tax campaigner told the newspaper: “It’s not on. Why does this firm think Bedroom Tax is a suitable subject to endorse their advert?
“People who are paying the tax don’t have any money to spend. That’s the point of it and one of the reasons it is so unfair.
They added: “This is an advert obviously aimed at people with money. It’s perpetuating the myth that people hit by Bedroom Tax can just go out and spend – that they’re lazy and getting a lot of benefits.
“It’s just not true. We are talking about people who in some cases are losing £25 out of the £70 they get a week due to the tax. They do not need to be the subject of an insensitive ad.”
Under the bedroom tax, social housing tenants occupying a property larger than their needs are required to contribute towards their rent through a deduction in housing benefit – 14% for one spare bedroom or 25% for two or more. A similar scheme exists for benefit claimants in the private rented sector.
Affected households can escape the ‘tax’ by moving to a smaller property. However, a shortage in social housing means that many families are unable to downsize.
People struggling with housing costs can apply for help in the form of Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs), administered by local councils and funded by central government. But there is no guarantee on the amount or duration of DHPs, or even that an application to the fund will be successful to begin with.
It’s rumoured that the government may increase the bedroom tax beyond its current levels, as part of a further £12bn in welfare cuts announced in the Queen’s Speech.
Last edited at 15:18 on 31 May 2015. Correction: bedroom tax deductions should read as a percentage (%) of a claimants housing benefit award. Apologies for any confusion this may have caused.