Tom highlights DWP ‘Bedroom Tax’ confusion in Armed Forces debate

In an Opposition Day Debate today (25th June 2013) to commemorate and celebrate the Armed Forces, Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, highlighted the on-going confusion regarding the Bedroom Tax hitting families with adult children who are serving their country.

In March this year the Coalition Government performed an apparent U-turn when they made the following exemption:

Adult children who are in the Armed Forces (including the Reserve Forces) but who continue to live with parents will be treated as continuing to live at home, even when deployed on operations.

Tom believes the rushed U-turn has left the new rules unclear, with local authorities interpreting them with varying degrees of success.

Tom made his comments following communication from his constituent Alison Huggan of Coulby Newham who has twin sons in the armed forces and is still being hit by the Bedroom Tax.

Tom said:
“Three months ago we thought we had an excellent result. Under pressure from our campaigning we thought the government had realised their mistake and put it right by making this exemption.

“The rushed U-turn has left the new rules unclear, with local authorities interpreting them with varying degrees of success. Unfortunately, the way the government has worded the regulations only a tiny number of soldiers, primarily reservists, will be exempt.

“If they lived in barracks prior to going away in operations and/or prior to commencing pre-deployment training, the DWP holds that they aren’t the claimant’s non-dependent. For all intents and purposes, the Government seem to be redefining what adult children – who are members of the armed forces – have as their homes.

“It is true that you can have a number of residences, however, for tax purposes, there is only one home or domicile used. If, as Ministers who have responded to questions on this issue by myself and the Shadow Work and Pensions Minister, seem to suggest, that the Government consider barracks the home for adult children who usually live there, then the barracks should be used for tax purposes also. As far as I’m concerned it is grossly unfair to differentiate the two.

“The Government urgently needs to clarify their guidelines that were supposed to exempt the families of members of the armed forces from the ‘Bedroom Tax’, yet ministers seem to have created another cruel discrepancy that is a direct attack on those who are literally putting their lives on the line to keep all of us safe.”

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