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Housing benefit changes bedroom tax

Since 1 April 2013, if you have more bedrooms than are allowed under new government rules, your Housing Benefit will be cut. This is called the removal of the 'spare room subsidy.'

You may have heard being called the 'bedroom tax'. The change is one of a number of government benefit changes and cuts.

To discuss how you might be affected by the 'bedroom tax' and your options, contact the Housing Options team on 020 7527 4140 or email rehousing@islington.gov.uk.

Who is affected?

You may be affected if you:

  • rent your home from the council, a registered housing association or other registered social landlord
  • are of working age (if you are of state pension credit age you are not affected by this change)
  • have more bedrooms than your household needs, under the new criteria

Foster carers and parents with a child in the armed forces who still lives with them when not on service will be exempt from the change.

How many bedrooms are you allowed?

The new government rules say you can have:

  • One bedroom for each couple or person aged 16 or over living in the home
  • A child under 16 is expected to share with one other child aged up to 16, if they are of the same sex.
  • A child aged under 10 is expected to share with one other child aged under 10, regardless of their sex and the size of the bedroom.

If you have any spare bedrooms that are not being used, or that are being used by people expected to share, your Housing Benefit will be cut.

Some people who need overnight care from a person who does not live with them may be entitled to an additional bedroom - get advice. Disabled children who cannot be expected to share will be allowed an additional room.

Foster children do not count as living with you but you will be allowed one extra room. If you have more than one bedroom reserved for fostering, you may have your Housing Benefit reduced. You should apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment and get advice.

Under the new rules a couple with a son aged 7 and daughter aged 5 would be allowed a two-bedroom property - one bedroom for the couple and one bedroom for the two children to share.

If you are unsure whether you will be affected, please call us on 020 7527 4990 or email benefits.service@islington.gov.uk.

How much will your Housing Benefit be cut by?

  • If you have one spare bedroom your Housing Benefit will be cut by 14% of your full rent. In Islington this is equal to £14 a week, on average.
  • If you have two or more bedrooms, your Housing Benefit will be cut by 25% of your full rent. In Islington this is equal to £25 a week, on average.

Find out exactly how much your Housing Benefit will be cut by calling us on 020 7527 4990 or emailing benefits.service@islington.gov.uk.

What can you do?

Islington Council is writing to all households affected by the change. We can help you, but you have to work with us. If you are affected by the 'bedroom tax', you have a number of options:

Move into a smaller home

If you move into a smaller home you can avoid the ‘bedroom tax’. Your rent and bills might also be lower. You will also have a smaller space to manage with the potential to live in a new area, closer to family, friends or schools.

There are a couple of ways that you can downsize.

  • Swap homes with someone who needs a bigger home, through a mutual exchange

Special offer - Swap homes through a mutual exchange and receive £750 for each ‘spare’ room you make available, plus £400 towards moving costs and in some cases money towards renovations and decoration. Terms and conditions apply, please call 020 7527 4140 to find out more.

You may receive £500 for each 'spare' room you give up and £400 towards moving costs. Terms and conditions apply, please call 020 7527 4140 to find out more.

The Housing Options team can help you to move. Get in touch now to find out more. Call 020 7527 4140 or email rehousing@islington.gov.uk.

Stay in your current home

If you stay in your current home you will need to pay extra rent to cover the cut in Housing Benefit. It’s important to consider now how you will do this, to avoid getting into arrears with your rent. To pay the shortfall in Housing Benefit you can:

  • Increase your income

If you are not working but would like some help to find employment or prepare for work, contact your local job centre or call the national job-seeker’s line on 0845 660 234. Find out more on our employment advice pages. Information about training courses is also available on our Adult & Community Learning pages. Increasing your income could affect your benefits. 

  • Ask family members to contribute, or pay more yourself

For information about welfare benefits and debt and money management, call our Income Maximisation team on 0800 731 8081. View the directory of local debt advice services.

  • Take in a boarder or lodger

Find out more about taking in a lodger by contacting the Tenancy Management Adviser at your Area Housing Office. Income from a boarder could affect your other benefits. Contact the Income Maximisation Team on 0800 731 8081 or at Claimit@islington.gov.uk to find out how.

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