The oversight which exempted some of the victims from bedroom tax has now been closed by the government.
The Department for Work and Pensions has advised its staff that the loophole, which sees anybody who had continuously claimed housing benefit whilst living in the same property since 1996 being exempt, has been closed.
Rather than the DWP intervening directly it has put the responsibility on councils to sort out the problems at a local level. Some sources have estimated that 40,000 to 60,000 social housing tenants across the county have wrongly been paying the bedroom tax since its introduction last April, reports 24dash.
Addressing the situation of tenants who may have moved home to ‘downsize’ and avoid the tax when they need not have, the DWP has said that: “The regulations will be amended from 3 March 2014. This will mean that from this point the size criteria reduction will be reapplied. Therefore if a claimant has taken steps to downsize in order to meet the rent shortfall, it is likely that they took the necessary steps to avoid an ongoing under-occupation reduction. Any HB arrears should be made from 1 April 2013 to the point they moved address.”
On whether claimants that have had to move as a result of being misapplied the bedroom tax will be compensated, the DWP has said that it has “overarching responsibility for the HB scheme but LAs administer the scheme on a day-to-day basis. Claimants are entitled to request compensation if HB has been paid late. This can be done via the LA complaints procedure or through the Local Government Ombudsman if the complainant remains dissatisfied when the procedure is exhausted.”
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