Philip Elliott, 56, and Elizabeth Aslett, 56, were shocked when they were told they owed the sum after they were assured by officials they would not have to pay anything when their sons moved out of the family home. The couple said they “burst into tears and cried” at the news and will struggle to pay the money back.
Their two sons Ryan Aslett, 18, and Lewis Aslett, 16, moved out of the three-bedroom council house the family had lived in for over a decade in September to attend university and college.
The couple told Nottinghamshire Live that they spoke to officials about their situation before their sons moved out, explaining that the boys would need their bedrooms when they came home for the holidays
The pair claim they were initially told this would be fine but were shocked earlier this month when they received a message saying they owed £1,667.27 as their bedroom tax had changed.
Mr Elliott said: “We told them in August this was going to happen in September, the lady said everything was fine. The money was looking a bit different in November so I was a little worried. When I found out it was a shock, nobody had said we owed them money.”
The couple get £1,100 each month from Universal Credit as well as £900 from Employment and Support Allowance and Personal Independence Payments (PIP) support.
The amount recipients receive towards housing costs may be reduced when a home has spare bedrooms.
Bedroom tax means a claimant will receive less in housing benefit or housing cost element in a Universal Credit claim when living in a housing association or council house and deemed to have one or more spare bedrooms.
Payments are reduced by 14 percent if the claimant has one spare bedroom and 25 percent if they have two or more spare bedrooms.
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Mr Elliott added: “We’ve got two boys trying to better themselves in life, we’ve put them in the right direction and now we are getting penalised for it.
“We can’t afford to keep it anymore, we don’t want to move, we don’t have the money to move. We are stuck.”
The Department for Work and Pensions has apologised for how the family’s case had been handled and said the staff had been in touch to help them with the appeals process.
A DWP spokesman said: “We are very sorry for how Mr Elliott and Ms Aslett’s claim has been handled and have been in touch to apologise and to help them with the appeals process.
“We have also reviewed their benefits to ensure they are receiving their correct entitlement.”