Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Rapists will be exempt from bedroom tax in Northern Ireland

Sex offenders will be able to keep big homes

Two-bedroomed flat: Rapist Mervyn Burns won’t have to move
Two-bedroomed flat: Rapist Mervyn Burns won’t have to move
Concerns: MLA Michael Copeland
Concerns: MLA Michael Copeland

Sex offenders who live in large government-paid homes will dodge the bedroom tax.

If the  tariff is introduced to Northern Ireland paedophiles and rapists will be exempt because they cannot rent rooms to lodgers and are almost impossible to rehouse.

So while the likes of teen rapists Michael Quinn, 24, and Mervyn Burns, 59, relax in their two-bedroom taxpayer-funded flats struggling families face being made homeless.

East Belfast MLA Michael Copeland believes the shocking loophole is another reason why the bedroom tax should not be introduced to Northern Ireland.

The Ulster Unionist said: “This highlights the very great dangers and challenges facing the Department for Social Development committee when it considers the welfare reform proposals.”

The controversial bedroom tax, which was introduced in the rest of the UK last week, does not affect paedophiles or rapists.

Perverts living in large properties have been promised their benefits will not be cut if empty bedrooms are not filled.

This is because it is too dangerous for anyone to share a house with a sex offender, who are almost impossible to relocate in other areas.

Last year Sunday Life revealed how teen rapist Mervyn Burns was living in a two-bedroom flat in the leafy Stranmillis area of south Belfast.

Under new welfare reform proposals he would keep all his housing benefits despite having an extra bedroom.

Meanwhile hard-working families and skint pensioners are facing the harsh prospect of either having their incomes slashed or being forced to move to smaller homes.

Around 30,000 social housing tenants will be affected by the bedroom tax if it is introduced in Northern Ireland.

They will lose £7 per week in housing benefit for every empty bedroom in their property, but can avoid the levy if they move to a smaller home.

Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland — who has responsibility for housing — says he finds parts of the legislation “unpalatable”.

Unlike the rest of the UK the majority of communities in Northern Ireland are divided on religiously and politically segregated lines.

This means that there is not enough housing stock to successfully implement the controversial reforms locally.

If our politicians decide to opt out of the legislation it will cost the Assembly in the region of £17 million per year.