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Benefit Reduction from April 2013

Updated 14 March 2013 but please note legislation is changing on a weekly basis at present.

What are the changes?

The government has decided that from April 2013 current and future working age tenants renting from a housing association or other registered social landlord may have their Housing Benefit reduced if they have one or more spare bedrooms.

Note: These changes do not affect pension age tenants. Pension age will be 62+ years old from April 2013.

How many bedrooms is my household allowed?

The government has provided a set calculation for working out the number of bedrooms a household needs.

Based on this calculation you need to count one bedroom for the following people:

- A single claimant or adult couple (married or unmarried)
- Any other single adult aged 16 or over
- Two children under age 10 regardless of gender
- Two children of the same gender aged up to 15
- Any other child (other than a child whose main home is elsewhere)
- A carer (who does not normally live with you) if you or your partner need overnight care

Extra bedrooms are not allowed for children who visit the household at weekends.

This means that those tenants whose accommodation is larger than they need may lose part of their Housing Benefit.

How much benefit will I lose?

- Those with one spare bedroom will lose 14 per cent of their Housing Benefit
- Those with two or more spare bedrooms will lose 25 per cent

For example:

If your rent is 60 a week and your housing benefit is reduced by 14%. The minimum amount that you will have to pay towards your rent charge will be 8.40 a week.

If your rent is 80 a week and your housing benefit is reduced by 25%. The minimum that you will have to pay towards your rent charge is 20.00 week.


Why is the number of bedrooms being restricted for Housing Benefit purposes?

The Chancellor announced the introduction of size limit rules in the social rented sector in the June 2010 emergency budget. It now forms part of the UK Government's Welfare Reform Act 2012.


Will I be affected?


You will be affected if you have too many rooms (as explained above), you are of working age and you receive housing benefit.


What does working age mean?


Anyone who is under state pension credit age, which will be 62 as at April 2013.


What if my partner is over state pension credit age?


If one member of a couple receiving Housing Benefit is over state pension credit age then the size limit will not apply to that couple.


Am I allowed a room for a foster child?


Legislation changed in early March 2013 to allow a room(s) to be allowed for a foster child(ren).


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


Where parents who don't live together have shared care of their children, the children will be treated as living with the parent who is treated as responsible for them and provides their main home.


For someone to be treated as responsible for a child or young person, the child or young person must normally be living with them. If a child or young person spends equal amounts of time in different households, or there is a question as to whom they normally live with, they will be treated as living with the person who is receiving Child Benefit for them.


The parent who is not considered to provide their main home will not be entitled to receive Housing Benefit for an extra room for their child/children. If they wish to remain in their current accommodation they will need to make up the shortfall in rent themselves.


My house has been adapted to cater for my disability, am I included in the size limit rules?


Other than the cases stated above there will be no exceptions to the application of the size limit rules. If there is a reason that an extra room is necessary then West Dunbartonshire Council may be able to help you with the extra rent through the Discretionary Housing Payment fund.


My child has a disability and is not able to share a room; will I be allowed an extra room for them?


Generally there will be no exceptions to the application of the size limit rules, other than the cases stated above. However families with children, who are unable to share a bedroom because of severe disabilities, will be able to claim Housing Benefit for an extra room.  The benefits section in West Dunbartonshire Council will make a decision on the individual circumstances of the family and decide whether their disabilities are such that it is not reasonable for the children to be expected to share a room.


My partner has just died, am I going to be expected to move as well?


There may be circumstances where someone in receipt of Housing Benefit would be considered to be under-occupying because of a death in their household. In these circumstances you would be protected and the size limit rules would not be applied for 12 months unless you moved house or had a change in your circumstances.


I could afford my rent but just lost my job and need to claim Housing Benefit. Does this mean I won't get benefit to cover all my rent because I have an extra room?


If you could previously afford to pay your rent and find yourself in a situation where you now cannot, for example because you have lost you job, provided you have not claimed Housing Benefit in the last 52 weeks, the size limit rules will not be applied for the first 13 weeks.


How can I make up any shortfall in rent?


If you are assessed as under-occupying your home and your Housing Benefit is reduced you may wish to stay where you are and make up the shortfall in rent yourself or:

- Move to a smaller house

- Ask any non-dependants that stay with you to contribute

- Take in a lodger

- Increase hours of work

- Take a job or increase working hours to increase income

- Apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment