Public housing tenants will still face penalties for spare rooms – even if that room is used to house a Ukrainian refugee, reports Sascha Lavin

Tenants of social housing will still be affected by the room tax, even if they participate in the “Houses for Ukraine” program, the Byline Intelligence Team can reveal.

According to a recent parliamentary question, almost half a million people who have paid the so-called ‘room tax’ will continue to be charged – even if their extra room is occupied by a Ukrainian refugee seeking refuge under the scheme. government allowing volunteers to host people in their homes.

The controversial tax – officially known as the Spare Room Grant – was introduced by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government and punishes social housing tenants for having a spare room in their home.

A tenant hit by room tax could lose up to £25 a week, according to 2015 estimates, a quarter of the tax-free monthly payment of £350 paid by the government to all Homes for Ukraine hosts.

Boris Johnson has promised the new scheme will be ‘a pathway through which everyone in this country can provide accommodation for people fleeing Ukraine’ – but the poorest face an additional hurdle if they want the same experience “rewarding” and “humiliating”. like former government minister Robert Jenrick by participating in the program.

‘A backup disasterWaiting to arriveHow the holes in the program “Houses for Ukraine”put refugees at risk

Last week, Welfare Minister David Rutley made it clear that those subject to room tax would continue to lose the spare room grant, despite their spare room being occupied by Ukrainian refugees fleeing Putin’s invasion.

In response to a parliamentary question from Labor MP Anneliese Dodds, Rutley said: “Under the Homes for Ukraine scheme, Ukrainian nationals are treated as not normally resident with their host. This means that there is no change in the number of rooms to which the applicant is entitled under the elimination of the spare room subsidy.

When Levelling-Up Secretary Michael Gove introduced the Homes for Ukraine scheme, he reminded the House of Commons of the UK’s “long and proud history of supporting the most vulnerable during their darkest hours”.

But the punitive bedroom tax did the exact opposite: victims of domestic violence were penalized for having a police-friendly panic room, and people with disabilities were fined for demanding a room to sleep. medical equipment.

The fine print from Homes for Ukraine shows that, in Boris Johnson’s broken Britain, no good deed goes unpunished while no bad deed – crony contracts and lockdown breaches – is punished.

The Department for Work and Pensions has been approached for comment and reiterated the response offered by David Rutley.

This article was produced by the Byline Intelligence Team – a collaborative investigation project formed by Signing time with Citizens. If you want to know more about the Intelligence team and how to finance his work, click on the button below.

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