Search

Romford ‘hero’ unearths bedroom tax loophole which could see 40,000 receiving a refund

07:06 15 January 2014

Peter Baker scrolling through reams of information on  the bedroom tax

Peter Baker scrolling through reams of information on the bedroom tax

Archant

Up to 40,000 people will receive a refund thanks to a Romford “hero” after he discovered that the government have wrongly assessed who is liable for the bedroom tax.

Peter Barker on his revelations:

In December, I suggested that council and housing association tenants getting housing benefit for the same home since 1996 are exempt from the bedroom tax. Last week ministers acknowledged that my analysis is correct. Councils are now indentifying tenants eligible for refunds.

The refund is available to people whose housing benefit is reduced by the bedroom tax and who have been on housing benefit for the same home since January 1996 without a break. One break of up to four weeks is ignored and a longer break is ignored if you started work after being long term sick and then became sick again within 52 weeks.

In some cases, the exemption can be passed from one person to another.

Some councils are finding that their records as far back as 1996 are not easy to search and in some cases have been destroyed completely. So if you think you qualify for the exemption contact the council’s benefits department.

If the council does not agree that you qualify, you can appeal as long as the council receives it within 13 months of the original bedroom tax decision last year. For most people this will be around the end of March so there is still time.

A conservative estimate puts the cost to the government at £26million.

Peter Barker, a freelance benefits specialist, of Hillfoot Avenue, discovered the loophole in December but last week the Department for Work and Pensions confirmed his analysis.

By his estimations, up to 90 tenants in Havering could be eligible for an average refund of £770.

It has also been reported that the suicide of the woman from Solihull who, in a note, blamed her death on the financial strains aggravated by the bedroom tax would have been exempt and, if she was still alive, eligible for a refund.

Mr Barker, 53, spotted the oversight made by the DWP in legislation they drafted in 1996. Housing benefit regulations from 1996 were not updated when the coalition created the bedroom tax.

He said: “I just put my findings onto an online discussion forum. I just expected people to find it interesting but instead in went viral.

“There was such a twitter storm over this. Until December I had just one follower and that was my sister-in-law. Now I’ve got people contacting on me on there hailing me as a hero.”

He explained that the area of legislation had become far to overcomplicated and described it as “an accident waiting to happen”.

The bedroom tax sees working age council and housing association tenants with spare bedrooms lose up to 25 per cent of their housing benefits.

It affected 660,000 claimants meaning they either had to move homes, find a way to pay the deficit or downsize to a smaller property.

0 comments

Latest News Stories

11:00
Election candidates standing for Hornchurch and Upminster (except Romford candidate Ian Sanderson). Clockwise from top left: Dame Angela Watkinson (Con), Melanie Collins (Green), Lawrence Webb (Ukip), Paul McGeary (Lab) and Ian Sanderson (Lib Dem)

Zero-hours contracts and the NHS were on the agenda at a hustings event.

10:00
Parliamentary candidates for Romford

Many things can influence a decision made at the ballot box and the chairman of a church hustings wanted to make sure all bases were covered – dog or cat person? Rugby or football fan? Inny or outy?

08:00
St Andrew's Church in Hornchurch held a service for Anzac Day, the anniversary of the landing of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps at Gallipoli during the First World War

The thousands of men who fell at Gallipoli have been remembered 100 years on.

Most read news

News from your area

WW100

Click on the banner above for full coverage of the centenary commemorations of the outbreak of the First World War.

Competitions

Spruce up for spring with this beauty bundle from Justmylook!

Looking to update your look for spring? Well, you’re in luck.

Glen Moray whiskey could be winging its way to you.

The Glen Moray Classic is a classic Speyside single malt and forms the starting point for the Classic Range.

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Romford Recorder e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24


Our trusted business finder