Paedophiles and rapists will dodge bedroom tax while hard-hit families face homelessness
SEX offenders who live in large houses will not have their housing benefit cut because they can’t let a room out to a lodger and are almost impossible to rehouse.
A shocking loophole in the Con-Dem welfare cuts, which come into force today, could mean thousands of sex offenders being exempt.
A Department for Work and Pensions whistleblower tipped off Scotland’s Health Secretary Alex Neil about the scandal.
Last night, the Airdrie and Shotts MSP said: “When hard-working people who are being forced to pay the bedroom tax realise that convicted sex offenders are often exempt they will be very angry indeed.
“This just shows how daft and unfair this tax is in the first place and it should be scrapped immediately. This tax is riddled with loopholes and contradictions – it doesn’t make any sense to penalise hard-working people in this way.
“It will also force many families out on to the street with nowhere to go.”
Neil and Airdrie councillor Michael Coyle were horrified when they were told of the loophole.
The DWP man told them sex offenders with large houses would not have their housing benefit cut because they couldn’t let a room out to a lodger and are almost impossible to rehouse.
Child abusers and rapists freed from prison would still be housed in larger homes and not penalised as it is hard to find them suitable accommodation.
Neil added: “We shouldn’t be forced to look for these loopholes. The tax should be scrapped and if the Scottish Parliament get powers over welfare through independence, the SNP will scrap this shocking policy.”
The rules will affect housing benefit, which is paid to less well-off tenants to help with rent.
Families deemed to have too much living space by their council will get a reduced payment. It has been claimed as many as 105,000 households in Scotland may lose £14 a week of housing benefit on average.
Foster carers and families of forces personnel will be exempt. But Coyle said the DWP are leaving local authorities to deal with each sex offender’s case on merit.
The DWP have given councils an extra £10million in discretionary funds this year to help vulnerable and poverty-stricken tenants. Coyle said: “I am really worried this money, which isn’t much when it’s split between all Scotland’s councils, will be used for sex offenders.
“A system that gives preferential treatment to sex offenders is sickening.”
The DWP refused to discuss how the bedroom tax would affect sex offenders. But a spokesman said: “With many thousands of people on housing waiting lists, we need to end the spare room subsidy and ensure a better use of social housing.
“Councils in Scotland have been given an extra £10million this year for discretionary housing payments to help people in difficult situations.”
The Government argue the changes will help cut the £23billion annual bill for housing benefit, free up more living space for overcrowded families and encourage people to get jobs.
The Church of Scotland, the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church accused ministers of manipulating figures to vilify the poor.
A Methodist spokesman said: “Whatever problems the country faced, it wasn’t the poor that caused it and shouldn’t be them that pay for it.”
And homelessness charity Crisis said: “The result will be misery – cold rooms, longer queues at food banks, broken families, missed rent payments and more people homeless. Devastating for those directly affected but bad for us all.”
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