Any household with people of working age (currently up to 61 years of age by April 2013) are considered to be under-occupied will lose part of their housing benefit.
The cut will be a fixed percentage amount:
- initially 14 per cent for households with one extra bedroom
- or a 25 per cent cut for those with two or more extra bedrooms.
Overall the government estimates those affected will lose on average over £14 a week.
Calculating extra bedrooms
The scheme restricts housing benefit to allow one bedroom for each person or couple living as part of the household.
One bedroom will be allowed for each of the following:
- a couple
- a person who is not a child (age 16 and over)
- two children of the same sex, age 10 - 15
- two children who are age 9 and under can share, even if they are of the opposite sex
- any other child
- a non-resident overnight carer
- a foster child or children living with an approved foster carer where an approved foster carer is waiting for a placement.
Following exceptions only apply if:
- part of their parents housing benefit assessment, armed forces personnel who are away from home on operations will continue to be included as needing a bedroom
- an extra bedroom for children who are unable to share because of their severe disabilities. There are particular guidelines in this situation and it would be considered on an individual case basis.
A Sanctuary Scheme provides victims of domestic abuse with a way to stay safe in their home
To qualify for this exemption you will need to be living in a Social Sector Property which means you will be renting from the Council or a Housing Association and
- the house is too big for you and therefore your housing benefit is being reduced by 14% or 25%
- additional security has been installed under a sanctuary scheme as a result of domestic violence or abuse
- the abuser or perpetrator does not live in your house unless they are a dependent child
- you can provide written evidence to support this by a person acting in an official capacity
Who is exempt?
There are certain circumstances where the size limit rules will not be applied:
- non-mainstream accommodation - these are mooring charges for houseboats and site charges for caravans and mobile homes as well as various excluded tenancies such as regulated tenancies i.e. those entered into prior to 15th January 1989.
- shared ownership properties
- temporary accommodation - any claimant who is placed in temporary accommodation by the local authority because they are homeless or to prevent homelessness.
- accommodation where, due to domestic violence or abuse to the occupier or a member of their household, additional security has been installed under the Sanctuary Scheme.