Calls for action to stop bedroom tax in Northern Ireland

By Gary Adair

There have been urgent calls for action to be taken to prevent the introduction of the 'bedroom tax' in Northern Ireland.

The Northern Ireland Executive had previously agreed a fund policy which meant that the tax would not be applied to tenants in Northern Ireland, however the legislation has not yet passed through Stormont. If the bedroom tax is introduced it is expected to affect more than 30,000 houses, and those affected could stand to be £100 a month.

What is the 'Bedroom Tax'?

The so-called 'bedroom tax' is also referred to as the Spare Room Subsidy or under occupancy charge, and affects people who receive housing benefit who live in a housing association or council property that is considered to have at least one spare bedroom. Such people can only claim housing benefit in respect of a certain number of bedrooms depending on how many people live in their home. It only applies to people of working age living in a council or housing association property.

Kate McCauley, of Housing Rights, says they are concerned that the tax could be allowed to take effect amidst the "current political uncertainty", and warns that the "cumulative impact on 35,000 people  ... could be huge." She says the bedroom tax would have a "real knock on effect on housing associations and on the Housing Executive and how they manage their arrears policy."