Under the new rules, from April 2013 if you have more bedrooms than the UK Government says you need, you will lose part of your housing benefit. This change is referred to as under occupancy or the ‘bedroom tax’.
The new rules mean that you will be allocated one bedroom (there is no minimum room size, see below) for:
- each adult couple
- any other person aged 16 or over
- two children of the same sex under the age of 16
- two children under the age of 10 regardless of their sex
- any other child
- a carer (who does not normally live with you) if you or your partner need overnight care.
It does not matter how the ‘spare’ bedroom is used, the new rules will apply even if:
- you and your partner need to sleep apart because of a medical condition
- the main residence of your children is another address, but you have a spare room for when they stay with you.
This could affect you:
- if you are 16 to 61 years old
- even if you only get a small amount of housing benefit – for example, if you are working
- even if you are sick or disabled
You won’t be affected if:
- you live in a one bedroom flat or bedsit, or if
- you or your partner are old enough to receive pension credits
How much will I lose?
If you have one ‘spare’ bedroom your housing benefit will be cut
by 14 per cent of your full weekly rent. If you have two or more spare
bedrooms, you will lose 25 per cent.
How will the changes affect me?
If your current rent is £80 per week and you have one spare bedroom you will have to pay £11.20 per week towards your rent. If you have two or more spare bedrooms you will have to pay £20.
What about bedroom size?
There are a lot of rumours circulating that any bedrooms under 70 sq. ft. should not be classed as a bedroom for the purposes for people claiming Housing Benefit and Universal credit.
This rumour is incorrect. It appears to be based on a misreading of the space standards set out in the Housing Act 1985 for the purpose of defining statutory overcrowding. There may sometimes be a legitimate question about whether a particular room should properly be designated as a bedroom, but this is a matter for landlords to determine. Further details can be found here
If your benefit is cut you will have to pay CCHA the difference between your housing benefit and your rent. If you are worried about being able to afford to pay your rent from April 2013 please contact us now as if you don’t pay your rent you could lose your home.
You can also:
- Talk to us about transferring to a smaller home
- Consider taking in a lodger
- Get advice on budgeting and saving money on household bills
- Make sure you are claiming all the benefits you can – for example, money to help with the costs of a disability
- Try to find some paid work to increase your income
Do you have a disability and need overnight care?
If you are of working age, have a disability and need a ‘spare’ bedroom so that a carer can stay overnight you should contact your local council now so that staff can help you keep more of your housing benefit.
If you need advice or have any questions please contact our Money Advice Team on 029 2046 8493, or email firstname.lastname@example.org – you can also speak to your Housing Officer, just call 029 2046 8490 and ask for Housing.