A Conservative MP has written to the BBC criticising it for investigating the government's bedroom tax.
Nigel Adams, MP for Selby and Ainsty, wrote to Lord Hall, the BBC's Director General, to complain after it used a private company to research an item for the Newsnight programme.
Support Solution was contracted to find people who had been affected by the charge, two-thirds of whom are disabled, and it released an advert asking "If you have any knowledge of possession proceedings or evictions that have occurred or are pending due to arrears through loss of benefit as a consequence of under occupancy please contact us urgently."
It added: “We will also pass on details of approaches that social landlords are taking in order to try and manage the implications of the ‘Bedroom Tax’ so please also contact us with this information as well.”
MP Adams wrote “Given this advertisement, many people will conclude that Newsnight has a preconceived agenda in covering this story. What steps will be taken to ensure that the eventual broadcast obeys the requirement for ‘due impartiality in all our output’ as dictated by the BBC’s editorial guidelines?"
He also asked whether the BBC was using these methods because those suffering “are too scarce to be found by regular means”.
The lack of official numbers may be because the government does not gather statistics on how many have been made homeless by the tax, and because it was only introduced in April and evictions have not yet begun for many affected.
The BBC denied it had asked for the advert to be placed, but said "Like most news organisations we use a variety of ways to conduct research, including contacting professional bodies and community groups."
The bedroom tax takes an average of £14 each week from the benefits of those claimants who have a spare room in their home.
Many areas are reporting big increases in rent arrears as a result of the tax, with East Ayrshire council saying it had seen a 340% rise.
Some housing associations are showing more tolerance than usual as a result of the hardship caused by the penalty, and evictions are likely to be delayed as a result of this.