[Skip to content]
The Government’s Welfare Reform and Localism Acts both received Royal Assent earlier this year and both introduce a number of radical changes to the way your benefits are calculated and paid. These changes could significantly affect the amount of money you have coming in each week and may well reduce the amount of housing benefit you get.
If you are of working age and claiming housing benefit to help pay your rent, but have what the Government deem to be a ‘spare’ bedroom, from April 2013 onwards, your housing benefit will be reduced by 14% for one room, and 25% for two or more bedrooms.
The following people need their own bedroom:
a single person over the age of 16
siblings of different genders over the age of 10, but siblings of the same gender are expected to share.
Here are examples of circumstances under which the Government would consider you have a 'spare' bedroom. It is important to note this does not affect tenants of pension age:
you and your partner live in a 3 bedroom house and have a boy aged 8 and a girl aged 3. The Government says that you only need a two bedroom house .
you live by yourself or with a partner in a 2 bedroom flat
you live by yourself or with a partner in a specially adapted two bedroom bungalow because you are disabled. The only exception to this is if you need a carer to stay overnight on a regular basis.
you live in a 3 bedroom property and do not have your own children but are fostering children – these children are not counted for benefit purposes and therefore you would be deemed to have two spare bedrooms.
We understand that having to pay 14% or even 25% of your own rent could cause some serious problems and we are committed to supporting you through this process. We can help in a number of ways, including:
referring you to our welfare benefits advisor who will be able to make sure that you are claiming all the money you are entitled to.
advise you of your options if you feel that you need to move to a smaller property. In certain circumstances, we may be able to offer a financial incentive of up to £2,000 if you agree to move to a smaller property AND that the property you are leaving is in need by other local families. This is called our Incentive to Move scheme. Please contact us for further details.
advise you about taking in a lodger, but please be aware that before you do this you must obtain our permission and it may have an effect on other benefits that you receive.
give you information about swapping your property with someone else. If you would like some more information, please click here. Alternatively, register your details on www.homeswapper.co.uk .
Because of the changes to the amount of benefit people receive if they are classed as having a spare bedroom bedrooms, we have had to revise our Allocations and Transfer policies.
There are other major changes that may affect you if you are of working age and currently claiming benefits. The biggest is the introduction of Universal Credit. From October 2013 onwards, people making new claims for benefits such as Job Seekers Allowance, Income Support, Tax Credits and Housing Benefit, will receive one 4 weekly payment to cover all of these benefits, and you will have to arrange for your rent to be paid out of this one payment because landlords will no longer receive housing benefit direct from the Local Authority.
We realise that this is a huge change for many people, and some may struggle to prioritise essential payments such as rent and may be worried about rent arrears. If this is the case, we have a number of people you could talk to, including your housing officer, who will be able to talk through a number of options with you, including the setting up of a Direct Debit or even a Basic Bank Account if you don’t already have one. They may also, with your consent, refer you to our Welfare Benefits Advisor or our Money Advisor.
Please note that existing claimants will move onto Universal Credit as their circumstances change, and all claimants are expected to be on the new benefit by 2017.