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‘Can I get help with my rent?’
> 'I rent from a social sector landlord, and want to know how my eligible rent is worked out'

Until recently, if you rented from a social sector landlord, the eligible rent was normally the actual rent. Unfortunately all that has changed with the introduction of the ‘Bedroom Tax’

The official name of this change isn’t actually the Bedroom Tax: legally, it is called the…

‘Housing benefit size criteria restrictions for working age claimants in the social rented sector from April 2013’

Not quite as memorable, I think we can agree.

However, the official name does tell us some important things about the Bedroom Tax:

How does it restrict your Housing Benefit?

Basically, the following people or groups of people are entitled to a bedroom:

You then tot up the total number of rooms this gives you and compare it with the actual number of bedrooms in your home.

icon-example1.jpgJohn and Patsy Jones have five children: three Girls (Sarah (6), Ruth (13), and Sally (15)), and two boys (Simon (8), and Mark (11)). The Housing Association charges them £100 rent per week for their house, which has five bedrooms. They used to get all their rent paid by Housing Benefit (Patsy gets income based Employment and Support Allowance).
  • John and Patsy get one room
  • Simon and Sarah are both under 10, so get one room
  • Ruth and Sally are the same sex, so they get one room
  • That leaves Mark, who gets one room.
  • So their Housing Benefit will be based on them needing a four bedroom property. Because their house actually has five bedrooms, their eligible rent is their actual rent reduced by 14%, so they now only get £86 per week Housing Benefit, and have to make up the difference (£14) themselves.
(It doesn’t matter who actually lives in each room. So looking at our example, I imagine that in reality Mark and Simon might end up sharing. That doesn’t affect the way the calculation works.)

Some Important Details…

What can you do if you are affected by this?

I don’t like these new rules. Many people (maybe you) will be faced with a choice of major upheaval or a reduction in income. They might have lived in a place for years, have worked hard to make the place nice, and be part of a community of neighbours: there may not be a smaller property available for them anyway. But they’re here and we need to get used to them.

Here are some things to think about: