Bedroom tax

Despite working very hard to help change the Government’s mind on the ‘bedroom tax’ , as of 1 April it came into force. You will have noticed that your Housing Benefit has reduced if you have one or more bedrooms than the Government says you need. It will have reduced by 14% if you have one spare bedroom and 25% if you have two or more spare bedrooms.

We understand these changes are difficult to everyone who is affected and SLH is continuing to help those tenants. So far we have contacted all of our tenants who are affected to explain how the changes impact on them and to discuss their options. We have also helped over 70 tenants make Discretionary Housing payment (DHP) applications. The DHP can be claimed if you are having difficulty paying your rent, Liverpool City Council decide who should be given the payments.

If you are struggling to pay your rent because of the bedroom tax please contact us now. There are lots of ways we can help:

  • We can help you look at ways to move home if you decide you can’t meet the shortfall
  • We can refer you to free money advice services that can help you with budgeting or provide you with confidential advice about your finances
  • We can offer advice about ensuring your rent payments are maintained so you don’t fall behind and put your home at risk.

The size criteria in the social rented sector restricts housing benefit to allow for one bedroom for each person or couple living as part of the household, with the following exceptions:

  • Two children under 16 of same gender expected to share
  • Two children under 10 expected to share regardless of gender
  • Disabled tenant or partner who needs non-resident overnight carer will be allowed an extra bedroom
  • Approved foster carers will be allowed an additional room so long as they have fostered a child, or become an approved foster carer in the last 12 months
  • Adult children in the Armed Forces will be treated as continuing to live at home when deployed on operations
  • Disabled children who are unable to share a bedroom with a sibling because of their severe disabilities are allowed their own room.

If you have two children who are different sex but are both aged 10-16 then they are allowed a bedroom each.

If you have one bedroom or more spare you will be classed as under occupying your home.

Who is affected by the new bedroom tax?
The new rules will only apply to anyone who is claiming Housing Benefit and is of working age. Working age is anyone age between 16 and 61 years as of April 2013. The Government plan to increase the working age for both men and women to 66 years by 2017.

Will SLH be reviewing bedroom sizes?
Your tenancy agreement states how many bedrooms your home has. There is a lot of debate at the moment as to what constitutes a bedroom however we will not be reviewing any homes unless clear rules change meaning we have to.

We have looked into the option of reviewing bedroom sizes and have decided not to take this further. The reason for this is, if a large home is reclassified as a smaller one the value of the home also reduces therefore the rent currently charged would be too high for the size of the home. This would have a knock-on effect to SLH as it reduces the value of our homes meaning that loans may need to be renegotiated or even called in by the banks. This would have a big impact on the delivery of services.

We also believe that if we were to reclassify homes for those affected by the bedroom tax, it would not be fair to those who are not affected as they will be paying a higher rent for the same type of home.

Will SLH evict people who don’t pay the bedroom tax?
A lot of our tenants have been asking whether people will lose their homes because of the bedroom tax and the reality is that, yes, they could. Our message to those affected is that they should talk to us and work with us by accepting any advice and support offered which could help them manage their money and free up some finances which could help them to pay the shortfall in rent caused by the bedroom tax.

Those choosing to stay in their home will be expected to make up the shortfall in rent and keep their rent account clear. If they don’t pay then they will be managed in line with our Income Management policy. Eviction is a last resort so we do encourage anyone who is in arrears or who is struggling to keep up with rent payments to talk to us to see what advice and support we can offer.

The bedroom tax is not a rule that SLH agree with but it is one which is now in place and we have to respond to make sure that we continue to deliver the services you expect from us.

What are my options?

  • You can decide to move to a smaller home - This can take a long time to plan and prepare for so contact us now for advice. You will have to pay the shortfall until you move. If you are interested in doing a mutual exchange, where you can look for other people to swap your home with, visit the homeswapper website.
  • Pay the shortfall in rent - You may decide to stay in your home but you will have to pay the shortfall in rent. Contact your Neighbourhood Management Officer who will help you plan and prepare for your increase in rent. We can help you review your incomings and outgoings to help you make savings to cover the shortfall.
  • Seek opportunities - SLH can support you if you wish to seek employment and education opportunities to boost your income. If you work, the impact of the bedroom tax will be reduced as you will be responsible for paying most or all of your rent.
  • Get the right benefits - Ensure you are receiving all the benefits you’re entitled to. Contact our Benefits Advice Service on 0330 303 3000 to book an appointment.

Universal Credit

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Benefit capping

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Affordable Living

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Money saving tips

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Money advice

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Exchanging your home

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Rent arrears

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