I AM dismayed at the number of rumours there are about the ‘bedroom tax’ to be introduced in April 2013. Sadly too many, particularly relating to ‘the elderly and disabled’ are not true.

I appreciate the view expressed by Arnold Bennett that “any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts”.

I also accept some hardship will be experienced because housing benefit for a working-age tenant in social housing will reflect the size of their household.

However, I am deeply concerned that some people who should be explaining the facts are creating wide concerns among tenants.

I hear too many times about the adverse impact upon “an elderly person”. Since July 2012 the position has been crystal clear: paragraph 47 of the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP) circular states: “The size criteria rules will only apply to claimants of working age. Any claimant over the qualifying age for state pension credit or with a partner over that age will be exempt from the size criteria rules from April 2013”.

The DWP circular highlighted that, with regard to wider exemptions for disabled tenants, because of their individual and varied requirements, it was not to define these centrally.

However, it detailed more than £200 million funding to help Local Authorities implement the Housing Benefit reforms, which included an extra £130 million for Discretionary Housing Benefits.

This benefit is allocated to all local authorities, by the UK Government, and it is ring-fenced to be used in appropriate circumstances to make up the shortfall in their rent.

The DWP circular also indicates that there are many reasons why it may not be appropriate for someone with a disability to either move house or make up any shortfall in rent themselves, examples of these may include:

● Disabled people living in accommodation that has been substantially adapted for their needs, including new builds

● An individual or family who rely heavily on a local support network

● Foster carers including those between foster placements.

It should also be noted that Case Law directs that while “it remains for local authorities to assess individual circumstances; tenants whose children are said to be unable to share a bedroom because of severe disabilities will be able to claim Housing Benefit for an extra room”.

It is imperative that politicians, local authorities and Housing Associations accurately explain how these changes will be implemented.