Hundreds of people in the Wakefield District, and thousands of people across the country, have been wrongly charged the Bedroom tax, new information shows.
Housing experts believe a loophole in legislation means that tenants who have been living in their house since 1st January 1996 and have been on low income and eligible for housing benefit for that entire period are not covered by the bedroom tax and should not have been charged.
However they have been charged the bedroom tax since April last year and are likely to have paid up to £1000 extra on their homes.
The loophole is most likely to affect those with the most serious long term disabilities including those in adapted housing who have been hard hit by the bedroom tax.
The Pontefract and Castleford area is likely to be one of the most affected areas in the country, as it has one of the highest numbers of people affected by the bedroom tax, and also the coalfield areas have high levels of long term disabilities.
The Government is likely to try to close the loophole so people have to pay after all, but they may still have to repay people money from this year. Local MP Yvette Cooper is calling on the Government not to close the loophole but to ditch the bedroom tax for everyone instead.
Yvette is calling on people to get in touch if they believe they may have been wrongly charged, in case they may be eligible for a rebate. She has also asked Wakefield Council and WDH to assess how many people are affected.
“It is typical of this Government that they have wrongly charged people up to £1000 this year.
“The bedroom tax is really unfair, and now it is in chaos and confusion too. Instead of trying to close this loophole, the Government should ditch the bedroom tax altogether. It is really nasty to push families into debt just because they have a spare bedroom - especially when there are few smaller homes to move into.
“Anyone who thinks they might be affected should get in touch with me as soon as possible so I can find out if they have been charged too much.
I've asked WDH and the Council to work out how many people round here have been affected by this.