Finally, it seems that the popular press are starting to comment on some of the welfare benefit changes that are due to start taking place.
There is much confusion about how, when and where some of the changes are going to happen. That’s why today I am going to tell you the basics about the big change due to start in April this year – the Bedroom Tax (also known as the under-occupancy rules).
These changes have not been introduced by local councils but by national government. If your landlord offers to help, remember that they are on your side and want to make it as easy as possible for you to pay your rent.
Here’s what you need to know:
– Only tenants under Pension Credit age will be affected. Currently, that’s 61 and a half, but this will increase gradually over the years. To check pension credit age, visit https://www.gov.uk/calculate-state-pension.
– In a couple where one person is of Pension Credit age and the other is not, the rules will not apply. This will change later but we will deal with that then. This is about what happens in April 2013!
– A couple or a single person aged 16+ will be entitled to a bedroom. Otherwise…
- Children under 10 are expected to share no matter what gender they are
- Children over 10 of the same gender are expected to share until the elder one reaches 16
- Children over 10 of different genders are not expected to share
– Under occupying by one bedroom will mean a Housing Benefit cut of 14% of your total rent amount. Two bedrooms or more will be a cut of 25% of your total rent amount.
– There are no automatic exemptions for:
- adapted properties
- medical conditions that mean you can’t share a bedroom
- an empty bedroom being available for a foster child
– It may be that your council can help you to pay your rent through the Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) fund, but as the name suggests, it’s at their discretion, so there’s no guarantee either of success or how long they will give it for. Manchester tenants can find out about the City Council’s DHP fund here.
– Landlords will also be able to talk you through the other options available such as:
- accessing further training to help you towards a return to work or help you to find a better job
- moving into a smaller property
- taking in a lodger
- budgeting to find the extra money needed if you decide to stay and pay
Remember though that these are not options that Landlords want to push you into. Our job is to help and support you in making a decision and in making that decision a reality.