SDLP Mid Ulster MLA Patsy McGlone has
said that there is understandable confusion about the introduction of the
bedroom tax on housing benefit payments in Northern Ireland. The warning
came as letters from the Housing Executive explaining how the bedroom tax
will be administered were sent to those in receipt of housing benefit.
Mr McGlone said: “A number of
constituents have contacted my office worried by the letters from the
Housing Executive explaining how the bedroom tax will be administered.
“They have been understandably
confused because the parties responsible for this tax had told them that it
was not being introduced in the north.
“Those parties had, in fact, voted for
the bedroom tax to be introduced in legislation here.
“Only the SDLP and the Green Party
sought to prevent this happening by using a petition of concern in the
Assembly, but other parties refused to support our position.
“As a result, the bedroom tax is being
implemented here. However, until 31 March 2020, there is to be a welfare
supplementary payment to cover any cut to Housing Benefit due to the tax. No
additional claim is required. The supplementary payment will be
automatically paid by the Department for Communities. This should ensure
that no-one currently in receipt of Housing Benefit will feel the impact of
this new tax for the time being.
“There will be a concern that, in the
absence of a functional Executive and the possible re-introduction of Direct
Rule, this will remain the case.
“The SDLP will argue strongly in
favour of the maintenance of the supplementary payments, and for the removal
of the bedroom tax, whatever political arrangements are in place.”