Some answers to your most frequently asked questions:
Why is the Bedroom Tax being undertaken?
The housing bill is topping £21 billion a year. The Government claim this is too much to be paying and needs to be dramatically cut. Figures state that nearly one million empty bedrooms are being paid for through housing benefits. Steve Webb MP (Government Minister) told ITV News last week: “Thousands of families are living in over-crowded accommodation and their voices need to be heard as well.”
Who will be affected by the Bedroom Tax?
All claimants who have one or more spare bedroom(s) will be affected. This includes:
- Separated or divorced parents who share the care of their children and who may have provided an extra bedroom because of this.
- Couples who use their spare bedroom for recovering from an illness or operation.
- Foster carers, due to foster children not being counted 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 including those living in adapted or specially designed properties.
How does the Bedroom Tax affect lodgers?
As of April 2013, lodgers will count as occupying a room under the size criteria rules. Any income from a lodger will be taken into account and deducted from benefit (apart from the first £20). This reverses under Universal Credit – lodgers will not be counted as occupying a room and the size criteria reduction will apply, but any income from lodgers will be fully disregarded and will not impact on the amount of a claimant’s Universal Credit award.
What about students living away from home?
Households where there is a room kept for a student studying away from home, will not be deemed to be under-occupying if the student is away for less than 52 weeks (under housing benefit) or 6 months (under Universal Credit). Under housing benefit rules, students are exempt from non-dependant deductions. However full-time students will not be exempt from the Housing Cost Contribution, which replaces non-dependent deductions under Universal Credit. All young people under 21 are exempt from the Housing Cost Contribution, but students over 21 will face a contribution in the region of £15 per week.
What is Universal Credit?
Universal Credit is a new single payment for people who are looking for work or those on a low income, which will be launched this year. Universal Credit will help claimants and their families to become more independent and will simplify the benefits system by linking together a range of working-age benefits into a single streamlined payment.
How will the Bedroom Tax operate under Universal Credit?
Some differences will occur when the bedroom tax operates under housing benefit (April 2013) compared to Universal Credit when it is introduced. These differences are as follows:
To find out more about Bedroom Tax, click here.