Ministers have quietly broken their promise to exempt military families from the Bedroom Tax.
Soldiers’ homes stop being their main residence once they have moved into barracks, meaning their families are being hit with the hated charge as they are deemed to have “spare” rooms.
The damning revelation – in what is seen as the “ultimate betrayal” – comes despite ministers promising to spare “adult children in the Armed Forces” from the tax if they lived at home when they signed up.
Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop has branded the rules, which emerge this morning on Armed Forces Day, as “grossly unfair”.
He added: “Ministers seem to have created another discrepancy that is a direct attack on those who are putting their lives on the line to keep us all safe.
“The regulations suggest to working-class young men and women that joining the forces may jeopardise their parents’ home — hardly a wise recruitment strategy.
“The Government seems to be redefining what adult children, who are members of the Armed Forces, register as their homes. It is a very mean-spirited technicality.”
Alison Huggan, 49, who lives in Mr Blenkinsop’s Middlesbrough constituency, is being hit with a £100-a-month Bedroom Tax bill after her twin sons joined the forces.
She said: “It’s the ultimate betrayal to lead people up the garden path. It needs to get out there that this ‘exemption’ isn’t anything of the sort.
“The Government needs to sort this.”
Her 18-year-olds stay in Army barracks – Anaf serves with the Yorkshire Regiment while brother Aaron is in the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.
Mr Blenkinsop said soldiers have been advised to ask commanding officers to sign letters confirming their main home was at their parents’, not in a barracks.
The MP said: “It’s mad. Does the Government really want soldiers under fire on the front-line to be writing home about the Bedroom Tax?”
Ms Huggan is worried her sons will be homeless if she is forced out of her house.
Mr Blenkinsop said: “Alison has been a tenant of the housing association for nearly two decades and in this home she has brought up her twins.
“One of them is in Afghanistan.
“She spoke to her housing officer about moving toa smaller property only to be told the association does not have enough one-bed properties to meet demand.
“In early March this year, the Coalition Government performed an apparent U-turn when they made this exemption: ‘Adult children who are in the Armed Forces – including Reserve Forces – but who continue to live with parents will be treated as continuing to live at home, even when deployed on operations.’
“But Alison’s family has still been hit by the Bedroom Tax and she is now in rent arrears. The rushed U-turn has left the new rules unclear.”
Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy said: “This looks like a betrayal of promises made.”
Yet a Department for Work and Pensions spokeswoman insisted: “Parents with sons or daughters serving in the Armed Forces will not have their housing benefit entitlement reduced when that child is deployed on operations.
“Housing benefit also won’t change if their son or daughter splits their time between barracks and living at home.”