Bedroom Tax Causing 'Hardship And Distress'
The Government's benefit reforms are causing "severe financial hardship and distress to vulnerable groups", a committee of MPs from across the political divide has said.
The removal of the spare room subsidy, labelled the "bedroom tax" by some critics, sees social tenants with spare rooms receive reduced benefits.
But the changes mean that disabled people cannot easily move home, the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee concluded.
Ministers have been urged to change the policy to exempt anyone whose home has been adapted for their disability, and those on higher levels of disability benefit.
Some carers living with disabled people are also struggling to help their loved ones as a result of the annual benefits cap of £26,000, according to the committee.
It recommends the cap should also not apply to homeless people who have no say in where they are given temporary accommodation or how much it costs.
The committee's chairman, Dame Anne Begg, said: "The Government has reformed the housing cost support system with the aim of reducing benefit expenditure and incentivising people to enter work.
"But vulnerable groups who were not the intended targets of the reforms and are not able to respond by moving house or finding a job are suffering as a result.
"The Government's reforms are causing severe financial hardship and distress to vulnerable groups, including disabled people."
The committee said discretionary housing payments (DHPs), which local authorities can award to those facing hardship, are not a solution for many claimants because they are temporary.
Dame Anne added: "Using housing stock more efficiently and reducing overcrowding are understandable goals.
"But 60% to 70% of households in England affected (by the policy) contain somebody with a disability and many of these people will not be able to move home easily due to their disability.
"So they have to remain in their homes with no option but to have their housing benefit reduced."
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: "Our reforms are necessary to restore fairness to the system and make a better use of social housing. Unreformed, the Housing Benefit bill would have grown to £26bn in 2013-14.
"We have given councils £345m since reforms came in last year to support vulnerable groups, especially disabled people.
"The removal of the spare room subsidy means we still pay the majority of most claimants' rent. But we are saving the taxpayer £1m a day which was being paid for extra bedrooms and are freeing up bigger homes for people forced to live in cramped, overcrowded accommodation."