Bedroom Tax (also known as Occupancy Charge or Spare Room Subsidy) was introduced by the Government in April 2013. This means that you only receive Housing Benefit based on the number of bedrooms you need.
You are most likely to be affected if you live in a home that has three or more bedrooms or if you have no dependants and live in a home that has two or more bedrooms. You lose 14% of your housing benefit entitlement if you have one spare bedroom and 25% if you have two or more spare bedrooms.
If you live in a one bedroom property or you are a pensioner, you are exempt from the Bedroom Tax.
The rules allow one bedroom for:
- Every adult couple (married or unmarried)
- Any other adult aged 16 or over
- Any two children of the same sex aged under 16
- Any two children aged under 10
- Any other child (other than a foster child or child whose home is elsewhere)
- Children who cannot share because of a disability or medical condition
- A carer (or team of carers) providing overnight care.
One spare bedroom is allowed for:
- An approved foster carer between placements, but only for up to 52 weeks from the end of the last placement
- A newly approved foster carer for up to 52 weeks from the date of approval if no child is placed with them during that time.
Rooms used by students, prisoners sentenced to 6 months or less and members of the armed or reserve forces will not be counted as ‘spare’ if they are aware and intend to return home. You may be entitled to additional bedrooms if you have recently suffered bereavement in the household.
There are a number of options you could consider to meet any shortfall in your rent if you are affected by Bedroom Tax:
- Increase your rent payments, this will help you get in advance on your rent account and stay at your current home
- Increase your income by finding a job. If you need help and support in getting back to work or training, you can contact our Community Involvement Team
- Increase your income by taking in a lodger, friend or family member. However, there is a lot to consider before you make this decision. Please speak your Housing Services Officer more information
- Move to a smaller property by applying for a mutual exchange online through Home Swapper
- Make up the difference between the rent due and the housing benefit you receive. Before you make this decision, you need to be sure that you can maintain these payments over a long period of time and not just for a few weeks. You should speak to your Rent Services Officer about any decision you make in respect of paying your rent, by calling Customer Services on 0300 500 6262.
The easiest way to find out if you are affected is to use the bedroom tax calculator
If your circumstances change(for instance, you have a baby, a child leaves home, your child is too old to continue sharing a bedroom with a sibling of the opposite sex or you and your partner reach pension credit age), please tell the Housing Benefit department at your local council so that your housing benefit can be re-calculated.
Should you have any further queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our Income Maximisation Team by calling Customer Services on 0300 500 6262 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org