A Labour MP has questioned the fairness of the Government’s under occupation plans for the social sector, warning that many of his disabled constituents who have had adaptations to their homes face being “kicked out for having an extra bedroom”.
Under the Government’s size criteria rules for the social sector – which kick in next April – working age social tenants face having their housing benefit cut for having spare bedrooms.
Chris Evans, Lab/Co-op MP for Islwyn in Wales, said in the House of Commons: “Many disabled constituents have come to me because, despite having had to make adjustments to their homes simply to accommodate their disability, they now face being kicked out for having an extra bedroom. Does the Minister think that is fair in the 21st century?”
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, Stephen Crabb, said: “The Government are making available transitional funds to help people who have made significant adaptations to their homes in order to cope with serious disability—exactly the circumstances the hon. Gentleman describes—because we recognise that there is a vulnerability and we want to protect those people.”
He said the reforms, however, are based not just on the need to achieve value for money for the taxpayer. He said: “Underpinning our welfare reforms is the need to elevate the principle of making work pay and to ensure much greater fairness in the way our welfare system is delivered.”
Under current plans around 660,000 social tenants face losing an average of £14 a week from next April as a result of the new under-occupation rules.
According to the Government’s impact analysis, the proportion of disabled claimants affected by the measure is significantly higher than for non-disabled claimants with 420,000 disabled people impacted.