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 Romford News Stories

Reporters Hayley Anderson and Ann-Marie Abbasah at the Havering Show.

From wrestling and BMX tricks to star acts and fair ground rides, the first day of the Havering Show had it all.

15:00
Romford playwright Dan Murphy will open a festival in Havering with a performance of his play Skinny Legs. Picture:Arnaud Stephenson

The thought-provoking work of a young playwright will open a festival of fresh and innovative plays in Havering.

40-years-ago

A look back at the biggest local stories from this week 20, 40 and 60 years ago.

08:02
Jocelyn Brown will be headling at the Havering Show. Photo: PA Archive/PA Images

The Havering Show kicks off from 11am today at Harrow Lodge Park, Hornchurch, with a line-up featuring something for everyone.

Yesterday, 15:00
Our reporter Matt Clemenson with Keith Prince and Peter McNaught, Operational Director of the Bakerloo, Central and Victoria Lines on board the first official Night Tube from Kings Cross station.

Last weekend, Reporter Matthew Clemenson joined Havering’s London Assembly member Keith Prince on a tour of the new 24-hour service. Here is his full account.

Yesterday, 15:00
Rom Valley Way Car Park in Romford

Supermarket chain Morrisons has confirmed that it has sold the car park site opposite Queen’s Hospital to a global real estate company.

Yesterday, 12:00
Meditation class at the Thames Chase Forest Centre, with John London

“We all have thoughts and worries about yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Yesterday, 12:00
Johanna Higgs

After losing one of her twins in the womb, new mum Johanna Higgs said she couldn’t even look at daughter Gemma. Chloe Farand speaks to her about the devastating reality of postpartum psychosis and her recovery

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

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

You could win £15,000 to spend on either their mortgage or a deposit towards the home of their dreams

Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a period of time when you simply don’t have to worry about finding the money each month to pay your mortgage? When you don’t have to put money aside from your monthly income, or worry about having to afford other essential outgoings?

Which book character do you share cleaning habits with?

Whether you have more in common with put-upon Cinderella, emotionally turbulent Jane Eyre, or easily distracted Mole, you’re sure to appreciate that one lucky winner will receive four sessions of free cleaning. Enter our quiz for your chance to win. All runners up will get £10 off their first clean when making a repeat booking.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Romford Recorder
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now