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Monday 4th March 2013 | 22:30
By Daniel Bond
Controversial plans to penalise social housing tenants who under-occupy their homes could have a “devastating” effect on adoption, it is feared.
David Cameron has repeatedly pledged to tackle the “scandal” that sees thousands of children lost in the care system, and to take action to boost the number of families adopting.
The Children and Families Bill, which aims to end what ministers describe as a “national crisis” in the sector, is passing through the House of Commons this month.
But Labour now fear those reforms could be derailed by the Government’s plans for a housing under-occupancy charge, dubbed the ‘bedroom tax’ by critics.
Under the proposals, which are likely to hit tens of thousands of parents, children of the same gender will be expected to share a bedroom until they reach the age of 16.
However Government guidelines on adoption recommend children be placed in households where they will have their own bedroom - leading to fears potential adoptions will be blocked.
The Department for Education’s official guidance says a spare room for the child is a “relevant factor” in the adoption decision process, with assessors determining whether the child will have “adequate physical and emotional space”.
Speaking to PoliticsHome last night, Shadow Children’s Minister Lisa Nandy said it was “unbelievable” that ministers had not considered the impact of the ‘bedroom tax’ proposals on adoption.
Ms Nandy said adopted children often need their own bedrooms when joining a new family, and warned that many local authorities consider a spare room to be “essential” in their decision.
“It is unbelievable that a Government that is trying to increase the numbers of adopters hasn’t considered the potentially devastating impact of the bedroom tax on the most vulnerable children,” she said.
“No child should be denied the opportunity of a loving family and stable home because of this Government’s misguided bedroom tax.”
A Department for Education spokesperson last night confirmed families with adopted children would be affected by the new rules, but said £155m funding had been made available for special cases.
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