Bedroom tax

If you have a spare bedroom, you may be affected by the spare room subsidy, also known as the bedroom tax.

Bedroom tax FAQs

The bedroom tax means a cut to the amount of benefit you get if you have a spare bedroom in your housing association home. On 1st April 2013, the Government introduced new size criteria for housing benefit claims in social housing which mean that if you do have a spare bedroom, you receive less housing benefit and have to pay the difference to your landlord or move to a home that has the appropriate number of rooms for your circumstances.

This tax affects tenants of working age (between 16 and 61 years 5 months old).

Below pension credit age, which is 61 years. In the case of a couple, if one of them is of pensionable age they will be exempt from bedroom tax. For new claims, both people will need to be of pensionable age to be exempt.

Under-occupying means that you have more bedrooms than you need.

  • A couple
  • A person aged 16 or older
  • Two children of the same sex who are both under the age of 16
  • Two children of either sex who are both under the age of 10
  • Anyone who needs overnight care, or their partner

If you live in your home with someone else, the size limit rules take into account everyone living in the home when deciding whether you are under-occupying for housing benefit purposes. If it is decided that you are under-occupying, a percentage reduction will be taken off the whole eligible rent and any eligible service charges, and your housing benefit will then be based on the proportion of the rent you are required to pay.

No. 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 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 about who 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 be providing 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 home they will need to make up the shortfall in rent themselves.

This is still classed as a bedroom and will not be excluded from bedroom tax.

The cut is a fixed percentage of your housing benefit – it will reduce by 14% for one room and by 25% for two or more bedrooms. On average, you will lose £14 - £25 a week.

If you feel you can afford to pay the difference between your rent and how much benefit you now receive, you can continue living in your home and just need to continue making regular rent payments to us. The best way to do this is by direct debit – we can send you a form to complete if you are not already paying this way.

If you feel that you can’t afford to pay the difference to make up for the cut to your benefit, you have a number of options.

We have a dedicated Financial Wellbeing Team who can give you support and advice on things like budgeting and checking if there are any other benefits that you should be claiming.

You can downsize, which is when you move into a smaller home than you have now. We will try to find a suitable home for you, but you may need to wait until one becomes available. If there is a home that meets your needs, we offer an incentive for moving that can help.

The best way for you to find a home that means you won’t have to pay extra is to swap with someone. You can do this by applying for a transfer through the Bucks Home Choice website or by applying for a mutual exchange via HomeSwapper.

You can also apply for discretionary housing payment – this is available from the council’s benefit department to help people who qualify for housing or council tax benefit, but are having trouble paying their rent or council tax. This is a fixed sum of money which is only available until it runs out. DHP can be paid weekly, or can be a lump sum.

Citizens Advice have more information on the bedroom tax. If you think you are under-occupying your home, please call us on 01494 476 100 and we will do our best to help you.

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