This affects all tenants of working age who receive housing benefit and are judged to have one or more spare bedrooms.
Some groups will not be affected:
- people of pensionable age
- foster carers who have a spare bedroom between placements
- parents who have a child in the Armed Forces who still lives with them when not on service.
From April 2013 tenants who have one spare bedroom will have their housing benefit reduced by 14% of their basic rent. This goes up to 25% if you have two spare bedrooms.
Example 1: If you currently receive £100 housing benefit each week to cover all of your rent, that will reduce to £86 if you have one spare bedroom or £75 if you have two spare bedrooms.
Example 2: If you currently receive £10 housing benefit towards basic rent of £100, you will lose ‘£14’ (14% of your basic rent). That means you would now receive no housing benefit.
What is a spare bedroom?
Under the government’s definition, a bedroom is allocated to each:
- married or cohabiting couple
- young person aged 16 or more
- pair of children/young people aged ten to 15 of the same sex (unless one child has a severe disability that prevents them from sharing)
- pair of children aged under ten regardless of sex (unless one child has a severe disability that prevents them from sharing).
You need to bear this in mind when considering whether you will be assessed to have a ‘spare bedroom’.
If you and your partner sleep apart then the additional bedroom is still regarded as a spare room.
The same applies if your child now has another main address but you keep a bedroom free for visits.
Your under-occupation options
The simplest way to ensure you’re not affected is to find work. We offer many training and employment opportunities to help our residents.
Look out for information in our athome newsletter or in the news section.
Other options are:
- Consider moving to a smaller council home through our Fresh Start scheme. You can receive up to £4,000 depending on how many bedrooms there are at your current home.
- Look at swapping homes with another tenant through mutual exchange.
- Apply to move elsewhere in London through a scheme called housingmoves.
- Bring in a lodger to bring more money into your household. Please contact us if you want to look at this option.
If you have any questions about the changes or want to discuss your options, call our Welfare Reform Taskforce on 020 8359 2442.