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Thursday, 30 October 2014

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Bedroom tax refunds due after error

A BEDROOM tax loophole could see Copeland residents receive a refund.

It was announced last week that a central government mistake in implementing the controversial tax means that some residents have been paying it in error, and they could be due a refund.

Copeland Borough Council is now working with social landlords to try and come up with an exact figure of tenants who may be eligible for a refund.

The Spare Room Subsidy, dubbed the bedroom tax, was introduced in April last year and represents a change to housing benefit entitlement that means residents deemed to have one or more spare bedrooms are financially penalised.

The Department of Work and Pensions has now identified some possible new exemptions. Tenants who have been in the same house since 1996 (unless events like fire or flood caused them to move out temporarily) and who have received housing benefit since that date (excluding breaks of up to four weeks) may be eligible for a refund.

Natalie Sutherland, Home Group business change development manager, said: “The Government has said it intends to close this loophole as quickly as possible so it is important that those affected by the bedroom tax continue to budget for the shortfall and consider alternative accommodation.

“However those who have lived at their home and continuously claimed housing benefit since January 1, 1996, will be able to claim from their council a reimbursement for reduced benefit and be entitled to their full benefit until the loophole is closed.

“Those affected should contact the housing benefits department of their council.”

The bedroom tax is around £14 to £22 per week and has been running for 40 weeks, which could see those that are allowed to claim a refund receiving anywhere between £560 to £880. In Copeland, 1,380 households have been affected by the tax introduction.

Gillian Troughton, Copeland’s portfolio holder for finance and HR, said: “We are working with social sector landlords to identify tenants who would benefit from this exemption.

“If a tenant believes they could be eligible, they should contact our housing benefit department on 0845 054 8600.

“This may affect only a small number of people but it’s obviously good news for residents with long-standing roots in their communities.”

If anyone has received the council’s discretionary housing payment fund to cover their bedroom tax reductions will still be eligible for a full refund. Residents are also under no obligation to return these crisis fund payments.

Have your say

I'm tired of people called it a tax. It is not a tax. I work hard, pay taxes and expect NOTHING - unlike folk who do NOWT and expect EVERYTHING. If "your" benefit is being reduced because you are in a house deemed "too big", get off your backside and earn some coin, rather than blaming the world - it doesn't owe you a living.

Posted by Hardworker on 22 January 2014 at 11:43

I have a spare bedroom now my daughter has moved out however we both work full time and pay for it.
That is the big difference !
Benefits should be a temporary help and not a long term or even permanent situation except in a very few cases.

Posted by taxpayer on 20 January 2014 at 12:01

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