An error which has seen people wrongly charged the so-called 'bedroom tax' will be rectified as quickly as possible, Waltham Forest Council has said.

Of the 1,503 people in Waltham Forest affected by reforms to housing benefit, which has seen payments cut if people are judged to have a spare room in their council or housing association home, 146 have been identified as wrongly penalised.

These people should have been exempt as they have lived in their properties since January 1 1996 or before and they are yet to be informed of the mistake.

Waltham Forest Council says it expects the number will increase as it works through individual cases.

Councillor Marie Pye, cabinet member for housing, said she sympathises with those who have been left out of pocket by the error.

She said: “It is obviously extremely regrettable that the Department of Work and Pensions has made this error to add to the chaos surrounding the introduction of the under-occupancy penalty.

“It is one thing to impose an extra burden upon the day to day living costs of people with a spare bedroom, but yet another to compound that misery by getting it wrong.”

The changes to housing benefit are part of reforms to the welfare system led by Chingford MP and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith.

The government insists the reforms will make the benefits system fairer.