Hull family's case could lead to bedroom tax reform
THE case of a Hull family of seven classed as under-occupying their four-bedroom council house could lead to a reform of the new so-called bedroom tax.
Under housing benefit changes due to come into force in April, children in larger families will be required to share bedrooms.
As the Mail reported earlier this week, Gary and Heather Hooper live in a four-bed council house in Axminster Close, Bransholme, with their five children.
They currently share a bedroom with their youngest son Aaron.
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Their other children all have separate bedrooms with severely disabled five- year-old Angel sleeping in a specially converted downstairs room.
But under the new welfare changes, Angel will be required to share a room with one of her siblings.
Now, their ward councillor has tabled a motion for next month's full Hull City Council meeting calling for changes to be made to the legislation.
Councillor Phil Webster, finance portfolio holder, has also written to Lord Freud, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Welfare Reform, outlining his views and asking him to reconsider the aspects of the reforms that he believes cause serious problems and may discriminate against families with disabled children.
He said: "The so-called bedroom tax has an age requirement for children to share bedrooms.
"For most families, this is not a real issue but for families with severely disabled children, it presents a real concern for the well being of the disabled child and the family as a whole.
"Many families with a severely disabled child have adaptations to their property which cost a lot of public money.
"If, because of the bedroom tax, these families have to move to a smaller property, that investment is wasted and more may be needed to return adapted premises back to ordinary use.
"There may then be a cost of some adaptations in the new, smaller property.
"On top of this is the disruption to the disabled child and the family and the fact that they may have less suitable facilities going forward.
"This is why I think the approach has to be revisited and that is what I am calling for.
"It should have been thought through properly before but it has not been because the Government didn't listen to people.
"I want Lord Freud to listen to my suggestions and do the right thing now. "I will also be talking to colleagues about raising these concerns locally and wider afield."
Councillor Webster's motion is expected to get cross-party support with opposition Liberal Democrat leader Abi Bell due to second it.
Earlier this week, Hull North MP Diana Johnson highlighted the case of the Hoopers during a session in the House of Commons.
She said the family were expecting to lose £80 from their housing benefit because the system's new rules classify them as under-occupying the property because their children do not currently share bedrooms.