From April 2013, for those renting in the Social Rented Sector (Housing Associations), the amount of housing benefit that can be paid to you will be limited depending on the size of your family and the number of bedrooms you are considered to need. You may have heard this described as ‘a bedroom tax’ by the media.
What are the new rules?
Under the Government’s new rules you will receive housing benefit based on one bedroom for each person or couple living as part of the household. There are some exceptions.
- The rules only apply to people of working age claiming housing benefit. They do not apply to pensioners who have reached the qualifying age for pension credit
- Children under-16 of the same gender are expected to share a bedroom.
- Children under-10 are expected to share a bedroom regardless of their gender.
- A disabled tenant or their partner who needs a non-resident overnight carer will be allowed an extra room.
A couple with two girls aged five and 15 will be treated as needing two bedrooms. From April 2013, if they live in a three bedroom home their housing benefit will be reduced.
A single parent with a seven year old boy and nine year old girl will be treated as needing two bedrooms. From April 2013, if they live in a three-bedroom home their housing benefit will be reduced.
Will it affect you?
It will affect you if you are of working age and are treated as having at least one spare bedroom. This includes the following.
- Separated parents who share the care of their children and who may have been allocated an extra bedroom for this. Under benefit rules there must be just one ‘main carer’ for children – if you are not the main carer your benefit will be reduced.
- Couples who don’t share the same bedroom – the second bedroom will be treated as a spare bedroom.
- Foster carers – the bedroom they use for any foster children will be treated as a spare bedroom. This is because foster children are not counted as part of the household for benefit purposes.
How much housing benefit might you lose from April 2013?
If you have one ‘spare’ bedroom the rent we use to calculate your housing benefit will reduce by 14%. This could be about £12 a week (£624 a year).
If you have two or more ‘spare’ bedrooms the rent we use to calculate your housing benefit will reduce by 25%. This could be about £22 a week (£1,144 a year).
What if your housing benefit payments don’t cover your rent after April 2013?
If you think your housing benefit will be reduced because you have one or more ‘spare’ bedrooms you need to start planning for the change now. We will write to all people who will be affected by this change but if you are currently thinking of moving you need to take these new rules into account.
To avoid falling into arrears, you will have to use other money to pay your landlord the shortfall. If you are worried you won’t be able to pay any shortfall in your rent, contact your landlord. They will take your details and provide you with further information and guidance before the change takes place in April 2013.