Cuts to benefits under 'bedroom tax'
Published 1 Mar 2013 09:30 6 Comments
Housing staff visit homes, giving advice
STAFF at Bracknell's main housing association have been hitting the streets to tell residents about impending changes to the benefits system.
National changes under the Welfare Reform Act, including the so-called 'bedroom tax' - which reduces housing benefit if residents have an 'under-occupied' bedroom - are coming into effect in April.
Pensioners are exempt, but Bracknell Forest Homes says many people of working age may see a reduction in their benefits as a result.
Advisers have arranged personal home visits to those affected.
Linda Wells, housing and community services director at the housing association, said: "The changes to the welfare benefit system are fast approaching and will impact on many people of working age, including those who are in low paid employment who need help to pay their rent.
"We want to make sure our customers have advice and information to help them prepare for the impact of the changes."
Benefit changes include:
- A cap for the maximum amount of benefits that can be claimed by a household, which is set at £350 for a single adult with no children or £500 per week for a couple or lone parent.
- A cut in benefits where residents of working age are deemed to have too many bedrooms for their needs. So, a single person or a childless couple would be under-occupying if they live in a two-bedroom home.
The bedroom tax reduces housing benefit by 14% for one under-occupied room. Children under 16 of same gender are expected to share, while those under 10 are expected to share regardless of gender. If there are two or more empty bedrooms then the benefit will be cut by 25%.
Bracknell Forest Homes anticipates that about 700 households will be affected by bedroom tax.
Bracknell Citizens' Advice Bureau has been working in partnership with the housing association to offer help and advice to residents. Tracy Warren, bureau services manager, said that of the 45 households Bracknell Forest Homes has visited so far, 12 of them have contacted the CAB directly for advice.
Pensioners are exempt from the housing benefits cap and the 'bedroom tax'.
Households with a disabled person will be exempt from the benefits cap, as well as households entitled to Working Tax Credit, war widows and widowers.
Disabled people are not automatically exempt from the 'bedroom tax' unless they need an overnight carer.
For more information, see www.bracknellforesthomes.org.uk
What do you think about the changes? Will you be affected? Please comment below.
This article appeared in Bracknell News 01 Mar 13
Have your say. Post a comment on this article.
Mar 1, 17:54
I am in receipt of Working Tax Credit and have a disabled son but I am not exempt. I see it says on the BFH site that people who receive Pension Credit are exempt so now I am confused. Is this correct about WTC or is this an error in your reporting? If it is correct then I wonder why, when I had the “means testing lady” round and she went through ALL my income and outgoings, she seemed to think I would be having my housing benefit reduced by just over £70 a month. My eldest moved out and so I have a spare room which my disabled son now uses as his therapy room but apparently, this doesn’t count for anything.
Recommend? Yes 9 No 2
Mar 3, 17:16
This is a strange way for this government to seek to raise revenue. It only applies to those in social housing and there are no smaller properties in most areas for people to downsize to.
As I understand it a couple living in and claiming benefit of around £500 per month for social housing will be penalised for having a spare bedroom. That same couple could rent in the private sector and claim benefit up to £2,000 per month and no one gives a damn how many spare bedrooms there are.
A cynical person might think this was a ploy by the government to help out their cronies who have caught a cold in the buy to let sector. It certainly isn't about saving money.
Recommend? Yes 5 No 2
Mar 4, 09:59
Thanks for your comment, Hazel.
As it explains in the story, only pensioners are automatically exempt from the 'bedroom tax' and that people in receipt of working tax credits are among those exempt from the cap on housing benefits.These are 2 different aspects of the Welfare Reform Act.
Recommend? Yes 0 No 0
Mar 4, 10:25
Mar 4, 10:44
Having spoken to the benefits department (who may I add are just as confused as everyone else), I get the impression there is a difference between the benefits cap and the bedroom tax. I am still confused but they tell me the two things are different. So, you can have all the requirements to avoid the bedroom tax but then the benefits cap seems to take over. So, you’re screwed either way. None of it is clear and it’s no wonder there is so much confusion. The only way out is as timespassing points out is to rent privately and you appear to be exempt.
Recommend? Yes 1 No 0
Mar 8, 18:14
I think it a good idea the housing tax. Not in all cases but in most. I need a bigger house and pay my full rent as me and my husband both work. Why shouldn't a single person on benefit in a 4 bedroom house down size to a one or two bed. Free up some bigger houses to those that deserve them.
Recommend? Yes 3 No 0