Changes to Housing Benefit for Housing Association Tenants

Are you “working age”?

Do you pay rent to a Housing Association for the property you live in?

Do you get Housing Benefit to help you pay your rent?

Do you have a “spare” bedroom?

If so, changes to the way Housing Benefit is calculated from April 2013 will affect you.

The Government has announced that from April 2013, they will restrict payments of Housing Benefit so that if you are of working age and living in a property that is too large for you, i.e. has more bedrooms than you reasonably need, you will get less Housing Benefit.

From April 2013, we will be making a decision on how many bedrooms your need based on a “size criteria”. This criteria allows you to have one bedroom for each of the following:

  • A couple (married or unmarried)
  • A person who is not a child (someone 16 or over)
  • Two children of the same sex (under 16)
  • Two children who are under 10
  • Any other child (other than a foster child or child whose main home is elsewhere
  • A carer (or group of carers) who provide overnight care.

In addition to this, we can allow one additional room if you are an approved foster carer (or prospective foster carer) and we can also allow a room if your adult son or daughter would normally live with you but they are serving in the Military and are deployed on operations.

If you have more bedrooms than the “size criteria” says you need, we will reduce your Housing Benefit by reducing the amount of rent that we base the Housing Benefit calculation on.

These reductions will be:

  • 14% of the eligible rent if you have one bedroom too many, and
  • 25% of the eligible rent if you have two or more bedrooms too many.

Here are a number of examples to show what we mean:

Example 1

Mr & Mrs Smith live in a 3 bedroom house. They have two children, Mary aged 8 and Elizabeth aged 12. The rent is £100 per week and they get £50 per week Housing Benefit.

They are allowed

1 bedroom for being a couple

1 bedroom for Mary and Elizabeth (as they are both under sixteen and both the same sex).

They are entitled to 2 bedrooms but live in a 3 bedroom house so have one more bedroom than they need.

The rent that we base the Housing Benefit award will reduce from £100 per week to £86 per week so we will only pay Housing Benefit of £43 per week

Example 2

Mr and Mrs Mohammed live in a 3 bedroom house with their children Imran (14) and Sofia (8).

They are entitled to:

1 bedroom for being a couple

1 bedroom for Imran

1 bedroom for Sofia

Only 2 children of the same sex under 16 are expected to share a bedroom so in this case, as Imran and Sofia are not the same sex and Imran is over 10, they are classed as needing a room each.

They have three bedrooms and need three bedrooms so there will be no change to their Housing Benefit

Example 3

Miss Brown lives alone in a 3 bedroom house. Her rent is £120 per week and she gets Housing Benefit of £120 per week

She is entitled to:

1 bedroom as she is over 16

She is entitled to a 1 bedroom property but is living in a 3 bedroom house and has two more bedrooms than she needs. The rent that we base the Housing Benefit calculation on will drop from £120 to £90 (a 25% reduction). Her Housing Benefit will be £90 per week from April 2013

We have contacted all those who will be affected. We have also been working with the major Housing Associations in the area (Watford Community Housing Trust, Thrive Homes, Paradigm Housing, Hightown, Rivermead) to tell them about the changes.

Your landlord will also be writing to you and will be able to help you with the options that are available to you.

It is important that you act now if you think that you will not be able to pay all of your rent if your Housing Benefit drops.

If you would like independent advice on this change you can contact:

Shelter – or phone 0808 800 4444

Citizens Advice Bureau – or phone 08444 111 444

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