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If you live in social housing and are of working age, the Government are introducing strict new rules for housing benefit which may affect you.
From April 2013 the amount of housing benefit you can receive will relate to the size of property that the government deem that you need.
If you are seen as living in a home that is too big for you, your Housing Benefit WILL be reduced, and you WILL have to pay the difference towards your rent.
But I don’t have a spare bedroom will I be affected?
It is not just people who have a spare bedroom who will be affected. The new rules will state that:
- Couples and single adults living full time in the home need their own bedroom
- Two boys or two girls aged under 16 living full time in the home should share a bedroom
- A boy and girl both aged under 10 living full time in the home should share a bedroom
No exceptions will be made if you need an extra bedroom due to disability, for foster children, or children do not live in the property all of the time.
If you are deemed to need mid or high level care, there is an allowance for an extra bedroom for a regular overnight carer but there are rules around this. For more information please contact the Department for Work and Pensions.
Find out if you will be affected now. Click here to use our bedroom tax calculator.
If you are effected by these changes and would like to move to a smaller home, click here to register for HomeSwapper or contact our Allocations Team on 01270 506200.
Don't ignore this - if you think you may be affected call us on 01270 506200, we are here to help
Social housing size criteria and statutory overcrowding
The National Housing Federation is aware of a rumour circulating on facebook and elsewhere that bedrooms under 70 sq ft should not be counted for the purposes of the social housing size criteria for claimants of Universal Credit and Housing Benefit. This rumour is incorrect. It appears to be based on a misreading of the space standards set out in the Housing Act 1985 for the purpose of defining statutory overcrowding.
The UC/HB social housing size criteria depend on the number of bedrooms in the property, and for this purpose a room is either a bedroom or it is not. There is no such thing as a half-bedroom, or a bedroom deemed suitable for occupancy by one person but not two. In principle, the size criteria regard any room designated as a bedroom as being capable of accommodating a couple or two children (unless the children are of different sexes and one of them is over 10).
It has been suggested that requiring two persons to occupy a small bedroom might amount to statutory overcrowding under Part 10 of the Housing Act 1985. Section 326 of the 1985 Act requires that a room to be occupied by two persons should be at least 110 sq ft in area (10.22 sq m), but for this purpose children under ten count only as “half persons” and babies under the age of one are disregarded. The corresponding minimum sizes for 1.5 persons, 1 person, and 0.5 persons are respectively 90, 70, and 50 sq ft (8.36, 6.50, 4.65 sq m), room sizes that are fairly small by ordinary standards.
The room sizes in s326 of the 1985 Act are for the purpose of deciding whether the statutory space standard is met, for which purpose s326(2)(b) of the Act specifically states that “a room is available as sleeping accommodation if it is of a type normally used in the locality either as a living room or as a bedroom”.
The fact that the Act counts living rooms, not just bedrooms, as available for sleeping means that it is almost inconceivable that any social housing could be so fully occupied that the 1985 Act is breached, since even if a designated bedroom is smaller than the 1985 Act lays down, the Act contemplates that the occupant(s) could sleep in the living room instead.
From April 2013 the government will be limiting the total amount of welfare benefits people of working age can receive.
A weekly limit will be introduced for the total amount of benefit payments people can receive from:
- Housing Benefit
- Income Support
- Jobseekers Allowance
- Employment and Support Allowance
- Incapacity Benefit
- Child Benefit
- Child Tax Credit
- Carers Allowance
- Widowed Parents Allowance … and so on
The limit is likely to be a maximum of:
- £500 a week for lone parents and couples without children
- £350 a week for single people
Some households will not be affected by the cap; these are expected to include households getting certain benefits such as:
- Working Tax Credit
- Disability Living Allowance
- War Widow/Widowers benefit
The government's on-line benefit cap calculator will help you to find out if the benefit cap will apply to you. The calculator only takes a few minutes to complete.
To answer the questions you'll need information about the amount of each benefit or allowance you or someone in your household receives each week.
Find out now if you will be affected by the benefit cap, click here or contact Wulvern incomes team on 01270 506200