No ‘spare’ bedroom for a non-resident overnight disabled carer

Oh what a tangled WEBB we weave, when first we practice to deceive!

Hansard last night records the following transcript in which Steve Webb the junior minister at the DWP is speaking in an adjournment debate over the bedroom charge (aka bedroom tax, under occupation charge, spare room subsidy) and is asked to give way…

“No. I apologise. I am sorry, I cannot remember the hon. Gentleman’s constituency, but he cited a case where a carer had to come in and use a spare bedroom. To be clear, the rules allow for a non-resident carer who has to stay overnight to have a room. Obviously, I do not know the full details of that individual case, but a spare bedroom is allowed for a non-resident carer.

Chris Leslie: I am afraid that the carer rules do not capture that particular case, but I wanted to ask the Minister a particular question about the bedroom tax—sorry, the spare room subsidy. I know the name is important, much like the community charge which some people did not want to call the poll tax. Can the Minister provide a figure for the number of households affected by the bedroom tax that include a disabled person?

Steve Webb: The hon. Gentleman glossed over his constituent’s case, but to be clear for the record, a spare bedroom is allowed for a non-resident overnight carer and it is important that he does not alarm people about the issue”

Steve Webb was at pains to state that a spare room is allowed for a non-resident carer, “…but to be clear for the record” he says and goes on to repeat “…but a spare bedroom is allowed for a non-resident carer.”

Steve Webb, to be clear and for the record, you have misled parliament and that is not the case at all!

The absolute fact of the matter is that a non-resident carer is ONLY allowed a spare bedroom when that non-resident carer is delivering the care for the tenant or the partner of a tenant.  The non-resident carer does not see a spare bedroom exempted in a household where the care is provided to anyone else.

I reported yesterday of precisely one such case of a lady who lives with her 4 year old twins and J her severely disabled 17 year old son in a 4 bed fully adapted property.

J has cerebral palsy, hydrocephalus, is oxygen-dependant, has severe brain damage, epilepsy and lots more.  J is a majority wheelchair user and can take barely a few steps and is on high rate DLA for motobility and care indefinitely. No ‘spare’ bedroom for this deserving case!

This clearly deserving case for a non-resident carer does not allow a spare bedroom for the non-resident overnight carer and the bedroom charge applies.

J sleeps with his bedroom door open as does mum who doesn’t sleep Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday nights in case J wakes up which he frequently does.  Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday a non-resident carer comes in to allow mum some sleep in the 4th and allegedly ‘spare’ bedroom.

Yet because J is not the tenant or the partner of the tenant the bedroom charge does NOT allow the non-resident carer a spare bedroom exemption.

For the record minister you have just misled parliament, unless of course you do not realise that such incredibly deserving cases exist or that the bedroom charge policy has failed to see such cases….and just for irony mum’s MP is none other than Esther McVey, the Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and the Minister for Disabled People!

OR, is it hopefully now that you have knowledge of the case – and if you need more details you could ask your colleague Esther McVey, yes the Minister for Disabled People, who has been written to over this case and failed to respond to this ‘spare’ bedroom issue – that you have in fact changed the policy and simply not told us about it?

What was that again minister?  You said, for the record of course, “…a spare bedroom is allowed for a non-resident overnight carer and it is important that he does not alarm people about the issue.”

Minister, I do hope I am not causing you alarm over this case yet as you will know this will set alarm bells ringing all over the hearts and minds of the general public as they realise just how unfair your policy is and read about the above case.

How do you sleep at night with all of these overt and knowing mistruths you tell they will ask.  Please let me know and I’ll pass your tips on to the mum in this case.

For the record and to be clear you need to change it !

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8 thoughts on “No ‘spare’ bedroom for a non-resident overnight disabled carer

  1. Just had discussion with carer over this, how you qualify and what evidence you need. I get mid care DLA as “even though you have care needs at night this is not for long enough” so I don’t get high care. Would some pen pusher at the council deem this as not enough need?

    Or will we yet again have to get hardworking GPs to write support letters on top of ESA, DLA appeals/evidence beat they be thrilled with that. Will it count if its an average 1 day a week or 7? The while thing is so complicated and unworkable it’s crazy.

  2. Joe I posted this comment on IH,5th march , “”i went to a meeting tonight with other wph tenants, loads of tenants myself included mentioned one of your articles re 50-70sqft size bedroom, the manager said that they had taken legal advice and that the 50-70sqft only applys to overcrowding, we all mentioned the 1985 housing act, to no avail, do you think they were they just tryng to scare us off, loads of us tenants are going to request a rent officer comes and measures our rooms, even though i know mine measures 55sqft”” after reading your response I emailed my HA,

    Dear Mr *****, I attended the meeting last night where you done a presentation on welfare reforms, due to be implemented soon, I asked you a question regarding the 1985 housing act( the Housing Act 1985, section 326 (3), excludes from consideration rooms of less than 50 square feet (which is 4.64 square metres) and classes rooms between that and 70 square feet (6.5 square metres) as only, in effect, half a bedroom).
    You stated that WPH had taken legal advice regarding this and that this would only apply if us tenants were overcrowded, but would not apply if we are under-occupied, it seems strange to me that a law can be swopped & changed to suit.
    Just curious as to why you did not present the legal advice that WPH had received at the meeting last night.
    Obviously advice WPH received would be one legal experts opionion, there are many other lawyers who have stated that the bedroom size challenge is a very viable one.

    Regards
    ******** *****

    received this email back from them yesterday

    We call on legal advice on a very regular basis across a whole range of issues. It did not occur to me to present the information from our legal advisors.

    With regard to your comment that it seems strange that a law can be swapped and changed to suit my response is that it is not one law but two addressing two different issues. If any of our tenants believe themselves to be statutorily overcrowded they should contact us to investigate the matter.

    I have read on a number of occasions that there is legal opinion that suggests that there is a viable challenge regarding bedroom size, if this is the case then I expect that a challenge will be mounted in the near future “””

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