Benefit changes - talk to us
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The Government are bringing in a number of changes to the amount of benefits people receive. The new size criteria requirement, or ‘bedroom tax’ as it has become known, will come into place on 1 April.

‘Bedroom tax’ is a cut in housing benefit that will affect people of working age (18 years to pension credit age), who live in a council or housing association home and are deemed to have more bedrooms than they need. Under the new rules, housing benefit will cover one bedroom being allowed for:

  • each adult couple
  • any other person aged 16 or over
  • two children of the same sex under the age of 16
  • two children regardless of sex under the age of 10
  • any other child
  • a non-resident overnight carer providing care to the claimant or their partner

If a tenant has one ‘spare’ bedroom, their housing benefit will be cut by 14% and if they have two or more ‘spare’ bedrooms, their housing benefit will be cut by 25%.

Paula Birbeck, director of services said: “There is no doubt that this is a very significant change that is going to affect a lot of people. The main message from us to anyone affected is to seek advice about your options and talk to us as soon as possible. We have known about these changes for a while so we have been able to alert our tenants and make preparations ourselves.

“From housing benefit information, we have been able to identify 315 households that we believe might be affected. Each of these households has received a letter explaining the changes and the options available to them. We are about to recruit a full time Tenancy Support Advisor who will work with our tenants through these changes and help people make decisions from the options available.

“With regards to maintaining a secure tenancy when downsizing, each housing association or council will have their own set of rules. In our case, we will honour the security of tenure if one of our tenants, who is affected by the changes, is downsizing into another one of our homes. Therefore, if someone is on an assured tenancy, they will sign over to another assured tenancy. The only exception to this would be if they wanted to move to a new build affordable rented property, rather than a social rented property.”

A lot of people have told us that they will manage the cuts to their benefits somehow and financial advice is available to help people who think they can. For those that can’t, there are several options that you can take. These are;

  • downsize to a smaller home through Devon Home Choice
  • exchange your home with another housing association or council tenant through a mutual exchange (Teign Housing tenants can register for free on a national mutual exchange list called HomeSwapper).
  • Taking in a lodger would not be seen as under occupying, however, the extra income will possibly reduce housing benefit entitlement as well so, in this instance, it would be a case of working out what would reduce your housing benefit the least.
  • move into private rented property that is the correct size for you and under the Local Housing Allowance to maintain your housing benefit entitlement.

If you are concerned about these changes then call us on 01626 322722 or e-mail: info@teignhousing.co.uk