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If you are on benefit, you may have to pay more towards your rent and council tax as a result of changes introduced in April 2013. If you are of working age, on Housing Benefit and/ or were receiving Council Tax Benefits these changes affect you.
Read about these changes below, or try our welfare reform calculator to see how you will be affected.
Social Sector Rent Restrictions
Since April 2013, your Housing Benefit may be reduced if you live in a council or housing association property and are deemed to have one or more spare bedrooms.
This change will not affect you if you or your partner are old enough to receive pension credit (you will not be affected if you were born on or before 6 October 1951).
How many bedrooms are you allowed?
The same size criteria that operate in the private sector in terms of bedroom requirements will be used:
One bedroom allowed for
- Every adult couple
- Any other adult aged 16 or over
- 2 children under the age of 10
- 2 children of the same sex under 16
- Any other child
- A carer proving overnight care
What happens if you have a "spare" bedroom?
If you are deemed to have one spare bedroom, your Housing Benefit will be reduced by 14% of the rent we use to calculate your entitlement. If you are deemed to have 2 or more spare bedrooms, the rent we use to calculate your Housing Benefit will reduce by 25%.
If your benefit is cut you will have to pay your landlord the difference between your Housing Benefit entitlement and the rent.
Mr and Mrs Smith live in a 2 bedroom flat costing £70 a week in rent. At the moment Housing Benefit covers the full cost of their rent. Under the new rules they will have one spare bedroom. Their Housing benefit will be reduced by 14% of their rent (14% of £70 = £9.80).
Their Housing Benefit will be reduced by £9.80 to £60.20 a week. They will now have to pay £9.80 a week towards their rent.
Mr and Mrs Bell live with their two teenage boys aged 13 and 15 in a three bedroom house. Their rent is £100 a week and they receive £10 a week in Housing Benefit. Under the new rules their children will be expected to share a bedroom and so they will be treated as having one spare.
Their Housing Benefit will be reduced by 14% of £100 (£14) and so they will lose all of their Housing Benefit.
Mr and Mrs Freestone are an elderly mother and adult son who share the tenancy of a 3 bed Council house. The rent for the property is £80.00pw. They need a 2 bed house so their eligible rent will reduce to £68.80 because a 14% reduction will apply as Mr Freestone is over accommodated.
The restriction does not apply to Mrs Freestone, so her Housing Benefit will be based on £40pw. Mr Freestone will therefore have his benefit based on a restricted rent of £24.80
Households facing reductions in help will be expected to meet the shortfall in their rent. You should discuss how much you need to pay with your landlord. You can take action to improve your financial circumstances by renting a room, finding employment or by moving to smaller and cheaper accommodation.
To work with this policy, our local support for Council Tax scheme removes non-dependant deductions, which means that we will not impose a penalty for adult children remaining in the property (although non dependant deductions will remain in Housing Benefit).
It is the Government's intention that these new rules will make better use of social housing, encourage mobility within the social rented sector and strengthen work incentives.
Are you over accommodated? Try our online calculator - Welfare Reform Calculator