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The Bedroom Tax
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Posted by: willis, on 12/11/2012, in category "General news & articles"
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Summary: This is the first of a number of articles explaining the implications of the Governments, Welfare Reform Act 2012 for benefit claimants...

The Bedroom Tax

This is the first of a number of articles explaining the implications of the Governments, Welfare Reform Act 2012 for benefit claimants. This article will clarify what the “Bedroom Tax” is and who will be affected by the changes that will be applied from April 2003.

The Bedroom tax will stipulate a new size criterion for those claiming housing benefit, which allows for one bedroom per person, or couple living as part of the household. The Government want to prevent “under-occupancy “, and therefore people living in homes that are viewed as too large for their needs will have their Housing Benefit cut. The tax aims to force some tenants to “downsize”.

The legislation does not actually define what is a “bedroom” is. The Government have stated that it is the responsibility of the Landlord to determine the size of the dwelling, and that this should therefore be reflected in the tenancy agreement and thus determine the level of rent payable. The new law will not take into account whether a room is a single or a double bedroom, in the Governments view a room is either a bedroom or not a bedroom.

The following people that qualify for exemptions from these criteria are -
• Children under 16 of same gender expected to share
• Children under 10 expected to share regardless of gender
• Disabled tenant or partner who needs non resident overnight carer will be allowed an extra bedroom

Those who will be directly affected are all claimants that have one spare bedroom. Listed below are those that might be affected –
• Separated parents who share the care of their children and who may have been assigned an extra bedroom to for this situation. The new rules state that there must be a designated ‘main carer’ for children (who receives the extra benefit)
• Couples who use their ‘spare’ bedroom recuperating from an illness or operation
• Foster carers may also be directly affected, because foster children are not considered as part of the household for benefit purposes
• Parents whose children visit but are not part of the household
• Families with disabled children
• Disabled people living in adapted or specially designed properties may be also affected
The Government have decided that those who are deemed to be “under occupying” will see a fixed percentage cut of their Housing Benefit. Specifically –
• 14% for one extra bedroom
• 25% for two or more extra bedrooms
As an example, if a single person living in a 3 bedroom house is charged £70 a week, and they currently receive £50 housing benefit, they will find that after April 2013, they will have their housing benefit cut to £32.50 i.e. 25% of their benefit has been cut because of the two spare bedrooms.
For those affected, these are potentially very worrying changes that could have severe financial consequences. The Government have suggested a number of options for those affected –

• Pay the charge
• Move to an appropriate size property
• Seek employment and no longer claim housing benefit
• Take in a lodger
Three Boroughs Housing Co-operative are working towards providing our members with the necessary advice and help presented by the changes in welfare reform. We will be contacting those tenants who we think will be affected by the bedroom tax.

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