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Labour: 'Bedroom tax' has been a fiasco from the start

Shadow work and pensions minister Chris Bryant has accused Iain Duncan Smith of "picking numbers out of thin air", with regards to the people wrongly charged the so-called 'bedroom tax'.

Iain Duncan Smith told Parliament that 3,000 to 5,000 people had been illegally charged the 'bedroom tax' thanks to the loophole, but it's now clear he was just picking numbers out of thin air.

The bedroom tax has been a fiasco from start to finish and now the Government have been caught out trying to downplay how many people are exempted by it.

This would be a farce if it weren't for the upset this has caused many vulnerable families and the huge cost to taxpayers.

– Shadow work and pensions minister Chris Bryant

Read more: What is so called 'bedroom tax'?

Labour: 'Bedroom Tax' error could hit close to 50,000

Labour has accused the Government of understating the number of council tenants who have been wrongly hit by the so-called 'bedroom tax' changes to housing benefit.

The opposition party said local authority data showed that, as a result of a loophole in the legislation, at least 16,000 households had wrongly had their benefit cut - while the true figure could be closer to 50,000.

Labour has accused the Government of understating the number of council tenants who have been wrongly hit by so-called 'bedroom tax'. Credit: Press Association

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has previously told MPs that between 3,000 to 5,000 tenants were thought to have been affected by the error.

But after submitting Freedom of Information requests to all 346 local authorities in the UK, Labour said responses from the 140 councils which have so far replied showed that 16,450 households had been incorrectly caught.

Shadow work and pensions minister Chris Bryant said that if there was a similar rate of wrongful deductions across the whole country, the final total would be almost 50,000.

Read more: What is so called 'bedroom tax'?

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£11m unclaimed 'bedroom tax' help returned to Govt

The spare room subsidy dubbed a "bedroom tax" has been a controversial issue since it was introduced last year Credit: Press Association

Almost £11 million offered to councils to help social housing tenants struggling to pay so-called "bedroom tax" has been returned to the Government, the Work and Pensions Secretary has said.

Iain Duncan Smith claimed it showed the discretionary payments scheme was working despite scaremongering from Labour.

Speaking in the Commons, he said: "The reality is about £11 million was returned back to the department from under spends.

"The reality is the key thing here is discretionary housing payments are there to help the most vulnerable.

"Councils should use them, we have allocated an extra pot for those who think they may run over, so there is extra money to bid for and we are very happy to entertain those bids."

Scottish Affairs Committee: 'bedroom tax cruel burden'

Ian Davidson MP
Labour MP for Glasgow South West Ian Davidson claims the committee has identified "glaring flaws" in the scheme. Credit: PA

The chair of the Scottish Affairs Committee has labelled the Government's so-called "bedroom tax" as a "cruel burden", saying it's "designed to hit the poorest".

The committee has called for the scheme to be suspended for claimants who cannot reasonably be offered alternative accommodation.

Chairperson and Labour MP Ian Davidson said: "This is an interim report because, while the impact of the bedroom tax cannot yet be fully quantified, it is already clear that it is a cruel burden being placed upon the shoulders of those least able to bear it."

Select committee urges 'bedroom tax' suspension

The Scottish Affairs Committee has called on the Government to suspend the "bedroom tax" penalty for claimants who cannot "reasonably" be offered alternative accommodation.

Houses
The changes to housing benefit were introduced in April 2013. Credit: PA

The MPs said the measure, which cuts housing benefit for social tenants deemed to have a spare room, was "a budget cut suffered by those in greatest need".

The interim report was opposed by Tory and Liberal Democrat MPs on the Labour-led committee, but they failed to prevent it being produced.

The committee said the report was designed to draw certain aspects of the scheme to the Government's attention, "notwithstanding our call for the tax to be abolished".

Introduced in April 2013, the changes mean those with an extra bedroom have a reduction of 14% to their eligible rent, and those with two or more extra bedrooms lose 25%.

SNP: Abolishing 'bedroom tax' would save £50 per week

Today's White Paper devotes a section of its chapter on health, wellbeing and social protection to the so-called bedroom tax.

Abolishing the policy would assist 82,500 households in Scotland, including 63,500 with a disabled adult and 15,500 households with children.

This would save tenants an average of £50 a month, according to the White Paper.

Read: What is the government's controversial 'bedroom tax'?

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Iain Duncan Smith not attending 'bedroom tax' debate

Work and Pensions secretary IDS has confirmed to Rachel Reeves that he won't take part in the planned Labour debate on the "bedroom tax" , ITV News understands.

Iain Duncan Smith is not attending tomorrow's commons debate on the so-called Bedroom Tax, ITV News understands. Credit: PA Wire

There are a number of demonstrations against the policy planned around Westminster to coincide with the debate.

Shadow secretary for work and pensions Rachel Reeves is calling for MPs to vote on a labour motion to repeal the policy.

Government review to understand 'bedroom tax' impact

The government are undertaking an independent review into the impact of the "bedroom tax" amid criticism from MPs and the public that a thorough impact assessment was not conducted before the sweeping benefit changes come into force.

Read: Tenants hit by 'bedroom tax' tell of financial misery

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the review, which was announced by Iain Duncan Smith in March, would help to understand the "impact" of what the government calls the spare room subsidy:

I have seen lots of widely different figures being cited about the impact of this policy - that is why we are commissioning independent research to exactly understand the impact of this.

I suspect it varies enormously between one part of the country and another, and one local authority and another. That is why we are trebling, as I say, the resources we are making available to local authorities.

Read: Tenants urge minister to rethink 'bedroom tax'

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