As most of you will know there are major welfare reforms currently under way and scheduled to cut in from April. We are focusing here on just one of these: bedroom tax, not least because several people who receive the Mashal are facing intense hardship as a result of the new bedroom tax, which comes into force this April. We have included this summary of it, which is taken from housing.org.uk

Some of the key points are as  follows:

Under 25s are likely to lose housing benefit altogether; and vulnerable people will receive their benefits direct, which means that some of them are highly likely to fail to pay their rent on time and may end up losing their home. (Their housing benefit is currently paid directly to their landlord).

The bedroom tax is part of welfare reform that will cut the amount of benefit that people can get if they are considered to have a spare bedroom.

Welfare reforms will cut the amount of benefit that people can get if they are deemed to have a spare bedroom in their council or housing association home. This measure will apply from April 2013 to tenants of working age.

The power to do this is contained in the Welfare Reform Act 2012 and is commonly referred to as the bedroom tax, size criteria or under-occupation penalty.

Anticipated impact these changes will have:

Housing benefit in the social rented sector will be restricted to for one bedroom for each person or couple living as part of the household, with the following exceptions:

Children under 16 of same gender will be expected to share
Children under 10 will be expected to share regardless of gender

Who will be affected?

All claimants who are deemed to have at least one spare bedroom will be affected. This includes:

Separated parents who share the care of their children and who may have been allocated an extra bedroom to reflect this. Benefit rules mean that there must be a designated ‘main carer’ for children (who receives the extra benefit)

Couples who use their ‘spare’ bedroom when recovering from an illness or operation

Foster carers because foster children are not counted as part of the household for benefit purposes

Parents whose children visit but are not part of the household

Families with disabled children

Disabled people including people living in adapted or specially designed properties.

The implications of the government’s austerity agenda and bedroom tax are likely to be even more severe than already perceived. Something like three quarters of a million people are likely to be affected by these measures. In many cases it is already causing severe anxiety and disruption.

Because the cost of student accommodation has doubled in the past decade after inflation-busting rent increases, some students will be unable to return home for their holidays as the result of parents having to downsize their houses. Who will be affected?

Matthew Oakley has written what seems to us to be a balanced account for those who would like to explore this important social issue further.
guardian.co.uk

Please pray into all that these measures will entail: for the government itself as it presumably finalises details, and for each family as it impacts them.