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Carers UK warns of human cost as 'bedroom tax' comes into force

28 March 2013

Charity steps up campaign to exempt carers from ‘spare room’ penalty

From Monday (1st April 2013) hundreds of thousands of families supporting seriously ill and disabled loved ones face losing an average £728 a year or being forced to move home because they have been judged to have ‘spare rooms’.

Government figures show ‘bedroom tax’ cuts to Housing Benefit for those in social housing will affect 420,000 disabled people, their families and carers.

Carers UK says the policy is causing huge anxiety for families caring for loved ones and has put together expert online advice for those affected.

The charity is also stepping up its campaign to exempt carers and is compiling evidence on the impact on individual carers and their families to present to Government.

Heléna Herklots, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said: “These families are already struggling with the financial, physical and emotional pressures of disability, ill health and caring and are now being hit by a policy which should not apply to them in the first place. For many of these families, the rooms are not ‘spare’, but are essential for them to sleep, or for medical equipment and disability adaptations. We will continue to fight for an exemption for carers, but as the policy is implemented, we know there are many families who fear being forced to leave their homes. That is why Carers UK has put together expert advice to help carers concerned about the impact of bedroom tax.”

Exemptions have been granted for disabled children, foster carers and armed forces families, but carers who need a room for respite, because they cannot share with a disabled or ill partner, or for medical equipment will be affected.

The Government has said carers may be among those entitled to receive ‘discretionary payments’ to cover the costs of the extra accommodation. Carers UK analysis shows, however, that the funding available will only protect a fraction -10% - of affected disabled people, their carers and families. (1)

“The Government’s limited discretionary payments will only provide insecure and potentially short-term support to a small minority of the disabled people and carers affected – and despite families being hit now, many are still in the dark as to whether they will qualify for this support or not.” Heléna Herklots added.

Last week, MPs on the cross-party Public Accounts Committee criticised the Government’s ‘wait and see’ approach to assessing the impact of the Housing Benefit reforms and called into question the savings Government aims to achieve from the changes. 

Carers UK is calling on families affected by the ‘bedroom tax’ to join its campaign by writing to the Prime Minister as part of the charity’s Caring & Family Finances Inquiry.


Notes for Editors:

Carers UK is a charity set up to support the millions of people who care for an elderly relative, a sick partner or a disabled family member. Carers UK:

  • supports carers and provides information and advice about caring
  • influences policy through our research based
  • campaigns to make life better for carers. 

 

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