Posted: 10 January, 2014 at 1:19 pm
John has asked questions in Parliament after it emerged a government mistake means thousands of people have been wrongly paying bedroom tax.
It is thought as many as 40,000 people – or 5 per cent of those paying the bedroom tax – could be eligible for a full refund.
Around 8,000 families in Rotherham and Barnsley have been paying on average up to £17 a week extra since April. That means around 400 could get back as much as £700.
The error by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) affects working age council and housing association tenants who have lived in the same home and been entitled to housing benefit since 1996.
When the bedroom tax legislation was drafted, the government did not update housing benefit regulations dating from 1996.
John has asked Parliamentary Questions of the Secretary of State, Iain Duncan Smith, to establish how many people the government think have been affected and what action they are taking to reimburse those who have paid wrongly. The questions are due to be answered on Tuesday 14 January.
On 8 January, the government issued an urgent notice about the problem to housing benefit staff and said they intend to remove the exclusion.
John said: “The bedroom tax is hitting disabled and vulnerable people with an average bill of £720 a year.
“It’s a callous, heartless and reckless policy that has forced families to use food banks and could end up costing more than it saves.
“The bedroom tax has always been badly thought through. Now we know the government have levied the tax illegally in some cases.
“It’s going to be a big job for councils to put this right and put the money back in people’s pockets.
“Instead of changing it, the government should scrap the bedroom tax immediately and if they don’t, Labour will.”
Any constituents who think they may be entitled to a refund can contact John for help on 01709 875943 or firstname.lastname@example.org.