Bedroom Tax – Does it affect you?
|March 7, 2013||Filled under Debate, East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Holderness, Local Government|
THE BEDROOM TAX, as the Government’s under-occupancy measure has become controversially known, means that from April 2013 you will lose part of your housing benefit if you live in a property that is deemed too-large for your needs.
- If you have 1 extra bedroom you will receive a reduction to your housing benefit equivalent to 14% of the rent of your home.
- If you have 2 or more extra bedrooms you will receive a reduction to your housing benefit equivalent to 25% of the rent of your home.
From April the following ‘size criteria’ will apply to those working age people claiming housing benefit
- a single adult or couple will be allocated one bedroom;
- a child under the age of 10 will be expected to share with another child under 10, regardless of gender;
- a child under the age of 16 will be expected to share with another child of the same sex;
- each person aged 16 or over will be allocated one bedroom;
- a single child (if you have only one) – one bedroom;
- a bedroom will be allowed for a non-resident carer where overnight care has been determined.
This replicates the size criteria applied to tenants in private rented housing who are in receipt of Housing Benefit.
These restrictions will not apply to claimants who are over pensionable age.
Example of how the under-occupancy rules will work: If you lived in a 3 bedroom house with your partner and 2 children who are 6 and 9, you would be classed as under occupying by one bedroom because your children have only been allocated one bedroom between them. This means you would have 14% of the rent for your home deducted from your housing benefit.
Those tenants affected by the new rules may have the following options to consider, depending on individual circumstances:
- Pay the shortfall in your Housing Benefits
- Apply for Discretionary Housing Payments
- Move to a smaller home
- Take in a lodger
- Re-designation of rooms
- Earning more money
The Government says that the rule changes are necessary to ensure the best use of social housing where under-occupancy is seen as problematic. In the East Riding Council’s Housing Strategy 2011 it states that 25.6% of households are under-occupying their property. The bedroom tax aims to provide an economic incentive for tenants to move to smaller properties.
The Government has also been very clear that the measures have been introduced in order to reduce expenditure on Housing Benefit and to tackle the national budget deficit. In a Parliamentary advice note to MPs on the bedroom tax it recognises that cutting costs is key, but if there actually was a migration of tenants to smaller properties, then those savings might not be made (underlining by Editor):
“It is clear from the February 2012 Impact Assessment that the desired savings in Housing Benefit expenditure will only be realised in full if social tenants do not seek to move from the homes they are under-occupying:
Estimates of Housing Benefit savings are based upon the current profile of tenants in the social rented sector, with little tenant mobility assumed. If a significant number of tenants wished to move, this would reduce direct savings and place extra demands on social landlords.” – Parliament advice (SN/SP/6272) on under-occupancy housing benefit 5th March 2013.
Local Hedon resident Neil Shillito is opposed to the way that the bedroom tax has been introduced. Leading a debate on the issue on the HU12 Online/Hedon Blog Facebook Page, he said:
“Although I agree with what the government are doing in principle, getting people in the right size accommodation to suit their needs, this plan has been badly thought through, and the truth is if everyone agreed to downsize tomorrow…there would not be enough homes for them to move to.
The truth is we need to build much more social housing before they can implement such draconian measures.“
Those requiring more information about the bedroom tax/under-occupancy rules in the east riding and benefit and money advice, should visit the two East Riding Council webpages below
HU12 Online: The debate led by Mr Shillito is welcome. There seems to have been very little discussion in the Holderness area about the new bedroom tax/under-occupancy rules; in fact very little information at all about seems to be available! Perhaps the current issue of East Riding Council ‘Your East Riding’ magazine should have contained information on this?