England rolling out bizarre and brutal new "spare room tax"
The goal is to more efficiently and cheaply dole out public housing (which is a public-private mess in England) but the result is to penalize anyone whose needs deviate from the normal. Do you have a special needs kid who requires their own room? Well you better hope you can pay 18% more a month!
The new regime is exacting, to say the least. If you're a separated or divorced couple who share the care of your children, only one of you will be allowed extra rooms; if the other keeps a bedroom for the kids, it'll still be deemed "spare". If a family contains two children of the same sex under 16, they must share, and the same will apply to mixed-sex children under 10. As the Holdens have discovered, whether a disabled child is entitled to a room of their own is a matter of some uncertainty, apparently being left to local authorities.
There will be no exceptions for foster carers, who might need extra space for children they look after. Even if a family or couple has had a house or flat kitted out with must-have facilities for someone who's disabled, if they're deemed to be under-occupying, they'll still be penalised (to help such people pay the rent, the government has set aside an extra L30m a year for discretionary payments, though help will be given on a temporary basis, with no kind of hard entitlement – and besides, next year's extra funding set aside to deal with the fall-out from housing benefit cuts amounts to just 6% of what the government intends to save).