In April 2013, the Government introduced Bedroom Tax (also known as under occupancy charge), which restricts the amount of Housing Benefit that council and housing association tenants can claim.
If you live in a housing association or council property that is deemed to have one or more spare bedrooms, and are aged under the pension credit age, then you will receive less in Housing Benefit.
The rules allow one bedroom for:
- Every adult couple (married or unmarried).
- Any person aged over 16 years old.
- Two children of the same sex aged under 16 (they are expected to share).
- Two children under the age of 10 (they are expected to share whether they are of the same sex or not).
- A carer for overnight stays.
- Families who regularly have foster children staying at the property.
How much Housing Benefit will I lose?
Having one spare bedroom will mean you will lose 14% of your entitled Housing Benefit.
Having two or more spare bedrooms will mean you will lose 25% of your entitlement.
What are my options?
If you have spare bedrooms within your home, there are a number of options available to you:
1. You can stay in your home and make up the extra rent payment which is no longer covered by your Housing Benefit.
2. You or another member of your household could try to boost your income to cover the extra rent payment. This can be through additional hours if they are available at work, or through taking on an extra job.
3. Consider downsizing to a smaller property. We can try to help you with this process.
4. If you have a non-dependant (a child over 18) living with you, you could make them responsible for making the extra payments that are deducted from your Housing Benefit claim, which enables them to stay in the property. It isn’t always easy to ask a child to pay their way, but it is likely that the rent contribution they make towards your rent will be a lot cheaper than them having their own property.
For more information about the Bedroom Tax, and to calculate how this will affect you, click here to visit Shelter’s website.