About 60,000 families living in council homes where there is someone caring for an elderly or disabled relative have been caught out by the “bedroom tax”.
Answering a written question in the Commons, the Employment minister, Esther McVie, revealed: “Around 60,000 households affected by the removal of the spare room subsidy policy are in receipt of carer’s allowance or have an underlying entitlement to carer’s allowance.”
The revelation follows a letter from the Disability Benefits Consortium, which represents 50 charities, pleading for disabled people and their carers to be exempt from the removal of the spare room subsidy.
In the letter, sent to the Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith late last year, campaigners warn that disabled people make up two thirds of those hit by the policy, which reduces the housing benefit paid to council tenants living in properties that have more bedrooms than they are judged to need.
As well as cutting the welfare bill, it is meant to ease the housing shortage by giving council tenants whose children have grown up and left home an incentive to move to somewhere smaller.
David Cameron has defended the policy on the grounds that it means council tenants are subject to the same rules as tenants who rent from private landlords.But Labour was throwing the Prime Minister’s own words back at him yesterday.
Last summer, Mr Cameron told the Commons that the nation’s carers “do an amazing job”. He said: “If they stopped caring, the cost to the taxpayer would be phenomenal, so we should do what we can to support our carers.”
Mr Cameron has also promised that anyone who needed a carer who would be sleeping in a separate bedroom would be exempt.
Labour’s shadow work and pension secretary, Rachel Reeves, said on Tuesday: “Despite repeated assurances by David Cameron that carers would be exempt from the bedroom tax, the Government has now been forced to admit 60,000 households with carers are being hit. This is further evidence of the damaging impact of the bedroom tax.”