Welfare Reform : ‘Bedroom Tax’

From April this will apply to people who live in social housing (for example City West of Salix or another housing association), where there is a spare room – and where the household gets housing benefit. If you have one spare room you will lose 14% of your housing benefit, and for two rooms you will lose 25% – a quarter of your housing benefit. It doesn’t matter if you feel you need to use the room for something else, unless it is for a carer providing overnight care for you or your partner. This will mean you will need to pay more in rent to your landlord than you currently do.

If you think the bedroom tax will hit you then you could check by using our online bedroom tax calculator (just go to www.adviceguide.org.uk).

This week I though it might be helpful if I shared some of the things I was asked by people at the bedroom tax road shows we helped with recently.

Q:        What if my partner is over pension age?

A:        If one member of a couple receiving housing benefit is over pension credit age then the bedroom tax will not apply, but from October when Universal Credit is introduced, if either member of a couple is under the qualifying age for pension credit then the couple will be treated as ‘working age’. They will be expected to claim Universal Credit and would at this point be subject to the bedroom tax.

Q         I share the care of my children with my ex-partner, are we both entitled to a room for the kids?

A:        No, only the person who claims child benefit is allowed a room for the children.

Q:        My daughter is at university, can I keep her room for her when she is at home on holiday?

A:        So long as the student is away from home for less than 52 weeks, then their room will not be subject to the tax.

Q:        My house has been adapted because of my disabilities, and I need an extra room to manage, what should I do?

A:        The council has been given extra funding for a discretionary housing payment fund – you should think about applying for extra help.

Q:        What happens if a room becomes spare because someone in the family dies?

A:        If someone dies then you are allowed 12 months before their bedroom is counted.

Q:        What happens if I rent out the spare room by taking in a lodger?

A:        The government has suggested that people hit by this new tax could take in lodgers. If you do this, £20 of any weekly income from renting out a room is ignored but 50 per cent of any amount above this is taken into account as income for your housing benefit and other means tested benefits like Job Seekers Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance and Income Support

Q:        What will happen if I don’t pay the tax?

A:        People are calling it a tax – but it is in fact a reduction in the amount of benefit you will be receiving, so you will still have to pay your rent. If you don’t pay your rent or increase what you pay because of the ‘tax’ and then build up rent arrears, then eventually your landlord can try to evict you from your home. They will however try to help you and it is always better to take advice as soon as you think you’re getting behind with your rent.

Don’t forget that your rent will also be increased in April.

We think you should check out if the bedroom tax will hit you. If it does, then you need to start thinking about your options Now.

Contact your landlord

City West:      0300 123 55 22

Salix Homes:  0800 218 2000         (or from mobiles on 0161 909 6559)

Remember that your landlord really does not want to evict you, and will do its best to be as helpful as it can be.

Please also come to us for independent advice:

www.salfordcab.org.uk or phone us on 0844 826 9695.

 

Tom Togher.