If you have limited income and savings, you may qualify for housing benefit to help you pay your rent. As soon as you think you may be entitled, you should contact your local council:
Use the Benefits Calculator to see if you are entitled to some help.
Please remember that if your circumstances change, you must tell the housing benefit office immediately. Failure to do this could lead to you facing a bill for benefit overpayment, or losing out on more housing benefit. The following are relevant changes that you must report immediately to the housing benefit office:
■ Changes to income (including benefits) for you or anyone living with you
■ Change of address
■ Any of your children leaving school or home
■ Anyone moving in or out of your home, including lodgers or subtenants
■ You (or anyone you are living with) start work.
Your Housing Benefit may be cut if you have “too many bedrooms”.
Under rules introduced by the Government in April 2013, if you have one spare bedroom you will have about 14% per week deducted from your housing benefit claim. If you have two or more spare bedrooms you will have about 25% per week deducted from your housing benefit entitlement.
When this happens you will be responsible for paying us the difference between your housing benefit entitlement and your rent.
Under the bedroom tax, the following will also apply:
•Children under 16 of same gender will be expected to share a bedroom
•Children under 10 expected to share regardless of gender
•However, a disabled resident or partner who needs a non-resident overnight carer will be allowed an extra bedroom.
Who will be affected?
All claimants who are deemed to have at least one spare bedroom will be affected. This includes:
•Separated parents who share the care of their children and who may have been allocated an extra bedroom to reflect this. Benefit rules mean that there must be a designated ‘main carer’ for children (who receives the extra benefit)
•Couples who use their ‘spare’ bedroom when recovering from an illness or operation
•Foster carers because foster children are not counted as part of the household for benefit purposes
•Parents whose children visit but are not part of the household
•Families with disabled children
•Disabled people including people living in adapted or specially designed properties.
What can you do if you are affected?
•Downsize to a smaller, more manageable property
•Take in a lodger or boarder (any income earned may affect other benefits)
•Apply for additional temporary support through Discretionary Housing Payments
•Pay the shortfall each week and cut back on spending elsewhere