THE number of homes in Northern Ireland hit by the ‘bedroom tax’ has more than trebled in six months – despite Stormont pledges to prevent the controversial welfare cut.
Top-up payments to mitigate against the cut ended for 86 housing benefit claimants in the period between October and March.
It comes after The Irish News revealed last October the bedroom tax had arrived in the north, as it emerged 35 claimants were no longer receiving the top-ups.
The controversial British government policy sees housing benefit claimants have their payments reduced if their home is deemed to have more bedrooms than they need.
In Northern Ireland, mitigation measures were passed before Stormont’s collapse so that claimants have their benefits topped up from a separate fund. The funding was supposed to protect people from being financially worse off due to the tax until 2020.
However under the provisions, people stop receiving the extra money if they move to another Housing Executive or housing association property that has the same or more bedrooms than their previous home.
The payments are cut unless the claimant has ‘management transfer status’ due to issues such as being intimidated out of their home.
SDLP deputy leader Nichola Mallon, who received the details in a letter from the Department for Communities, expressed concern over the impact. “The latest official figures from the Department for Communities show that the number of households being hit with the bedroom tax across the north has more than trebled in a few short months.”