The Government introduced new rules to Housing Benefit for working age people renting from a local authority, a registered housing association or other Registered Provider.
The new rules restricted the size of accommodation you receive Housing Benefit for based on the number of people in your household.
The new rules allow one bedroom for:
- every adult couple (married or unmarried)
- any other adult aged 16 or over
- any two children of the same sex aged under 16
- any two children aged under 10
- any other child, (other than a foster child or child whose main home is elsewhere)
- a carer (or team of carers) who do not live with you but provide you or your partner with
- overnight care
What does this mean?
It is possible that the amount of Housing Benefit you get to pay your rent and any service charges is reduced.
If you are assessed under these rules as having more bedrooms than are necessary for your
household you are considered to be under-occupying that property.
If you are under-occupying there is a reduction in your Housing Benefit. The amount allowed for rent and any service charges is reduced by:
- 14% for under-occupancy by 1 bedroom
- 25% for under-occupancy by 2 bedrooms or more
The reduction is not by 14% or 25% of your Housing Benefit, it is by 14% or 25% of your rent each week.
For example if your rent is £100.00 per week and you are under-occupying by one bedroom your Housing Benefit will reduce by £14.00. This means if your Housing Benefit covered all your rent you would now only get £86.00 and if your Housing Benefit was £14.00 or less per week you would lose all your entitlement. When your Housing Benefit is reduced you have to make up the difference yourself.
You may be able to get a Discretionary Housing Payment to make up all or some of the reduction and the Housing Benefit Team at the Council will be able to advise you about this.
Even if you do get this help it will only be for a limited period and in the longer term you will need to work out how you can make up the difference or whether you would consider moving to a smaller home.
Your landlord and the Housing Needs Team at the Council can advise you on looking for a smaller home and the Citizen Advice Bureau can give you advice on managing your money.
Where to go for more information - Surrey Heath Borough Council
The Housing Benefit Team can advise you on how the changes affect you, and what help is available through Discretionary Housing Payments.
You can contact a Benefits Advisor by visiting the Council offices Monday to Thursday 8.30am to 5.00pm and Friday 8.30am to 4.30pm, calling 01276 707100 or email email@example.com
The Housing Needs Team can advise you on your options for looking for a smaller home.
You can contact a Housing Needs Officer by visiting the Council Offices or calling 01276 707100. The Team is available: Monday and Wednesday 8.30am - 5.30pm, Tuesday 8.30am - 1.00pm and 4.30pm - 5.30pm, Thursday 2.00pm. - 5.30pm, and Friday 8.30am - 5.00pm. You can also email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Citizens Advice Bureau
The Citizens Advice Bureau provides a wide range of advice and can help you with money and debt issues. If you are having problems with budgeting or debt getting help now to sort out your finances and maximise your income could help you manage these changes.
Camberley Citizens Advice Bureau is based in Surrey Heath House. The opening times are Monday - Thursday 10am - 4 pm, and you can visit or call them on 03444 111 444.
Your landlord should be able to tell you how the changes are going to affect you and give you advice on services to manage the changes or options for moving to a smaller home.
You should have your landlords contact details but if not you can find a list of Housing Association contact details.