Unless you’ve been on another planet for the last few months you’ll have seen headline after headline about the so-called ‘bedroom tax’ that is set to be introduced in April of this year. However, while the press are more than keen to talk about it almost every day, most people are not entirely sure what bedroom tax actually is or, at least, what it means for them.
What is bedroom tax?
Despite the name ‘bedroom tax’ now being commonly accepted, the changes the government are set to impose in April do not actually involve the introduction of a tax. Indeed, the bedroom tax is not actually a tax at all.
The changes being introduced apply to housing benefit. Those people claiming housing benefit usually receive between £50 and £100 a week. However, the government is trying to cut the benefits bill significantly and wants to reduce the amount of housing benefit given to some people.
Anyone deemed to be living in a house that is ‘too big’ for their needs will start receiving less benefit. If the local authorities believe you have too much space your housing benefit will be cut.
The size of the reduction will depend upon how much extra space a tenant has. If they have one spare room their housing benefit will be cut by 14%. If they have two spare rooms their housing benefit will be cut by 25%.
What is ‘too much space’?
According to the new rules every adult or couple in a property will be allowed their own bedroom. Children under the age of 16 and of the same gender will have to share a room. All children under the age of 10, regardless of gender, will have to share.
Who will be affected?
The changes will only affect council tenants and housing association tenants. If you rent a property from a private landlord you will not be affected.
Are there any exceptions?
Pensioners will be exempt from the cut. For a couple, only one person needs to be of pensionable age in order to escape the cut.
Parents who have a child away at university will be allowed to keep his or her bedroom, without facing a reduction in housing benefit, as long as the student stays at home for at least two weeks a year.
Anyone with a spare bedroom – for example a divorced parent who has a spare room for when their child / children come to stay – will see a reduction in their housing benefit.