1 in 20 users of domestic abuse scheme affected by bedroom tax

Almost 1 in 20 households using the Sanctuary Scheme for people at risk of domestic violence have been affected by the removal of the spare room subsidy, reports Lorcan James.

Figures obtained from FOI requests to 79 Local Authorities show that from 2009, 281 households have been affected, meaning an average loss of £14 pounds per week.

The figures vary widely depending on the local authority. In North Tyneside 25% of the 109 households using the sanctuary have been affected by the bedroom tax.

The Sanctuary Scheme aims to enable householders at risk of violence to remain safely in their own home by installing a ‘Sanctuary’ within the home and provide support to the household.

A DWP spokesman said:

“The removal of the spare room subsidy is a necessary reform that will return fairness to housing benefit.

“A key part of our reforms is the funding given to councils – £180m this year and £165m next year – that is providing extra support for vulnerable households.”

Each local council is awarded a sum of money every year for people who qualify for housing benefit but are struggling to pay their rent.

People can apply for the discretionary housing payment in the case where there is a shortfall due to benefit cuts.

There is no entitlement to discretionary housing payment, however the council has to be fair and reasonable when assessing a claim.

Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid has said:

“’The ‘Bedroom Tax’ puts women and children at risk: potentially making women who have a spare room set up as a safe space through the sanctuary scheme move from the only place they are safe from their abusers.

“It was introduced without consideration of the difficulties survivors of domestic violence face in moving safely from one property to another, and at a time when there is a severe lack of safe smaller properties to move into.”

A spokesman for the Labour Party declined to comment.

A version of this post originally appeared on Birmingham Eastside.