Changes to housing benefit - Size criteria ('bedroom tax')
The amount of housing benefit you can claim has been reduced since April 2013 if you are working age and have a spare bedroom.
Your housing benefit won't be affected by if you or your partner has reached the qualifying age for pension credit. In April 2013 this was around 61 years and six months. Find out your pension credit age.
L&Q wants to speak to every resident affected by this change. If you are affected and have not yet spoken to us, or you are not sure whether you are affected, please contact us.
What is a spare bedroom?
Under the new rules, if you have more bedrooms than the government says you need, you will lose part of your housing benefit. The new rules mean you will be allocated one bedroom 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 ten, 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
- You have a spare room for when your children or other people come to stay
What happens if you have a spare bedroom?
If you have one spare bedroom, your housing benefit will be cut by 14% of the rent you pay every week. If you have two or more spare bedrooms, you will lose 25%.
If your benefit is cut you will have to pay the difference between your housing benefit and your rent.
I have a disability, am I exempt?
There are no specific exemptions from the size criteria for disability.
If you are of working age, have a disability and need a spare bedroom so that a carer can regularly stay overnight, you should be entitled to an additional room.
You should also be allowed an extra bedroom if you have children who are unable to share because of their severe disabilities. It will be for the council to determine whether there is a need for an extra bedroom. This does not apply to adults who are unable to share because of disability.
If you have a regular overnight carer or have severely disabled children who are not able to share a room, you should contact your local council now so that staff there can help you to keep more of your housing benefit.
What about foster carers and residents with children serving in the armed forces?
Foster carers and residents with children serving in the armed forces who continue to live with parents will be entitled to an extra bedroom.
If you think this might affect you, you should contact your local council immediately.
If you are affected by the size criteria, it is important that you continue to pay your rent in full, making up any shortfall in your housing benefit. If you don't pay your rent you could lose your home.
There are a number of things you can do to avoid a benefit deduction, or to ensure you have enough money to make up the shortfall. These include:
- Increasing earnings through work
- Reducing your household expenditure
- Managing your money and debt
- Moving to a small property
- Taking a lodger
- Seeking contributions from other members of your household
- Applying for discretionary housing payment
- Maximising your benefits
Find out more about these and how we can help you.
Not sure how you will be affected by changes to benefits?Find out using our free welfare reform calculator.
Maximise your benefitsAre you claiming everything you can? Find out using our free online benefits calculator.
Learning from others
Benefit cuts were due to affect Paula Sharpe badly – so she moved a few doors down and saved herself £3,000 a year.