independent professional staff association for UK forces personnel

Plymouth MP brands cuts to Armed Forces' benefits 'evil'

The Herald (Plymouth) reports that a benefits cut "that could hit the pockets of thousands of frontline troops" has been blasted by a city MP. From the newspaper:

Alison Seabeck branded Government moves to slash housing benefits as "evil".

The shadow defence minister and Labour MP for Plymouth Moor View was speaking amid fears welfare reforms will hit almost 100,000 Armed Forces personnel.

The Coalition Government wants to crack down on council and housing association tenants who leave bedrooms unoccupied.

Dubbed the 'bedroom tax', those who leave their room empty for more than 13 weeks will lose 14 per cent of their housing benefit.

If two rooms in the same property are left vacant for the same period, the claimant would be stripped of 25 per cent of the benefit.

But opposition MPs say the tax will unfairly hit service personnel...

The change will affect households in social housing and in receipt of benefit where one or more rooms are left vacant as a result of a family member's absence for reasons such as:

  • being called up for compulsory reserve service
  • absence on duty as a member of the regular forces (it is suggested this may affect a relatively small proportion of service families)
  • initial training as a recruit for the regular forces. Armed forces trainees are not exempt in such circumstances, whereas there is up to 52 weeks' exemption for students.

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