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vulnerable

Vulnerable children and adults with disabilities or high support needs may be forced to pay the Bedroom Tax, despite protestations to the contrary by Lord Freud, after it was revealed that creating more protections would cause ‘political embarrassment’.

Current rules mean some supported housing is protected from the Bedroom Tax, benefit cap and the effects of Universal Credit (if a working version ever arrives) – but this accommodation is not exempted if the landlord is not the care provider or when the landlord is a local authority.

This means that, for example, supported housing provider Habinteg has 1,200 wheelchair-accessible properties for the disabled – but only 516 of them are exempt from the benefit changes.

Lord Freud, who is minister for social security reform, said last April that the DWP was working to ensure all supported accommodation would be protected from what he called the “unintended consequences” of the government’s changes.

Freud famously worked for Labour before the last general election, but turned against his former employers and switched his allegiance to the Conservative Party in 2009 – for which was rewarded with a peerage.

Now it seems the government has turned against him. According to Inside Housing, “in a letter sent to housing organisations… the DWP [Department for Work and Pensions] said that while it still wants to protect supported accommodation from Universal Credit and the benefit cap, it no longer wants to protect non-exempt accommodation from the bedroom tax.

“A source said the government was opposed to the move because creating more protections from the bedroom tax would cause political embarrassment.

“Civil servants cannot change the exempt accommodation definition without also adding extra protections for the bedroom tax. This means all plans to protect non-exempt supported accommodation from welfare reform are on ice.”

Anti-Bedroom Tax campaigners recently discovered that people who had been living in social rented accommodation since before 1996, and claiming housing benefit for the entire period, were exempt from the Bedroom Tax.

But the latest development proves David Cameron’s protestations that the disabled were entirely protected from the Bedroom Tax were false and, instead of changing the rules to rectify the error, the DWP has made a worse liar of him.

How much humiliation is Cameron prepared to take before he curbs the excesses of this out-of-control organisation?

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