Under Occupancy

What you need to know

If you are living in social housing that is bigger than you need,  your housing benefit entitlement will be restricted if you are under pension age – this is called the under occupancy charge (more commonly known as ‘the bedroom tax’).

If you have one spare room you will lose 14% of your net income (£11) per week, or 25% of your income (£20) per week if you have two or more.

You will need to make up this shortfall in rent yourself.

There are some exemptions:

Severely disabled children – will be allowed their own bedroom if they would seriously disrupt the sleep of another child at night if they were to share a bedroom.

Foster carers – to be allocated an extra bedroom, even between placements.

Adult children in the armed forces – to be deemed as living at home whilst away on operations.

Bedroom size – whilst there are rules around what constitutes a bedroom for over occupation rules, this does NOT apply to the under occupation charge.

If you are thinking of starting a family and want to stay in a larger home, you will have to pay the charge in the short term.

Under Occupancy Calculator

Use this handy tool to work out how much you will have to pay.

Use the Under Occupancy Calculator

Under Occupancy Calculator

Are you in receipt of Housing Benefit?
Were you or your partner/spouse aged 61 ½ or over on 1st April 2013?
How many bedrooms does your property have?
What is your weekly rent?

(excluding ineligible service charges, insurance etc)

How many people/couples aged over 16?
Do any of these people have a non-resident overnight carer due to severe disabilities?
How many?
How many children, that you claim benefit for, live in the property?

Boys

Girls

Do any of these children require substantial overnight care?
How many?
Calculator results:

You will not be effected by the bedroom tax.

Exemptions

Exemptions

Severely Disabled Children — to be allowed their own bedroom where they would seriously disrupt the sleep of another child at night if they were to share a bedroom.

Foster Carers — to be allocated an extra bedroom, even between placements.

Adult children in Armed Forces — to be deemed as living at home whilst away on operations.

How we can help

We have identified several groups who will be affected by the changes, such as foster families between placements, separated parents who share care of children and those who live in adapted properties.

We have contacted all customers who we believe could be affected by this change to help them identify what options are open to them:

1. Move into a smaller property

2. Look into taking in a lodger

3. Maximise your income / reduce your outgoings and budget effectively so you can afford the reduction in your housing benefit.

Move into a smaller property

Those wishing to downsize are given a generous banding on our waiting list and a ‘downsizing scheme’ is in operation to assist qualifying households with cost of moving if possible.

You can register for a transfer into a smaller property via property pool plus

You can also register for mutual exchanges, which are often quicker and allow you to swap with any other approved landlord in your chosen area. This can be done via Property Pool Plus or via homeswapper direct.

Look into taking in a lodger

Our tenancy agreements do allow for a lodger but you must not sublet your whole property. Any income generated by a lodger will need to be declared to the housing benefits department as could affect your benefit income.

A new social enterprise, Uniitee, has launched their new home sharing scheme starting in Cheshire East. Uniitee will match older home-owners with spare rooms and those wanting a little bit of support but to stay independent with people looking for accommodation. For more information watch this film: http://youtu.be/DbsrJCteKCM

Speak with your Housing Officer for further information.

Maximise your income / reduce your outgoings and budget effectively

We offer welfare benefit and money advice to help you prepare your budget for these changes. Advice is available by telephone, email, or by face-to-face appointments. Call our Income Maximisation team on 0151 510 5204 or email welfare@haltonhousing.org

For those who cannot afford the reduction in housing benefit we may be able to apply for additional funding from the Discretionary Housing Payment which is administered by Halton Borough Council.

 

Non Dependant Deductions (NDD)

What you need to know

If you live with people who are over 18 and not in education or who are working or claiming benefit deductions, this will be taken from your housing benefit – between £12.40 per week to £80 per week, (this amount increases every April and is deducted regardless of how much your NDD actually contributes).

Deductions will depend on people’s level of earning.

Across Halton, the average increase means you are nearly £6 per week worse off.

How we can help

Non-dependants are people like grown-up sons or daughters and elderly relatives. If you have non-dependants living with you, your housing benefit and council tax benefit may be affected. The benefits department will assume the non dependant contributes towards the rent and council tax regardless of whether they do or not. If you cannot afford the deduction we can help to:

Ensure that the correct non-dependant deduction is applied

If you or your partner receive any disability living allowance/ personal independence payment, then no charge will apply. Also, if the non dependant is staying on a temporary basis no charge should apply.

You should ensure the non dependant hands in proof of income as this will ensure that the correct deduction is applied.

Maximise your income / reduce your outgoings and budget effectively

We offer welfare benefit and money advice to help you prepare your budget for these changes. Advice is available by telephone, email, or by face-to-face appointments. Call our Income Maximisation team on 0151 510 5204 or email welfare@haltonhousing.org

For those who cannot afford the increased reduction in housing benefit, we may be able to apply for additional funding from the Discretionary Housing Payment which is administered by Halton Borough Council.

Benefits Cap

What you need to know

A cap will be put on benefits for non-working households.

The most these households can claim is £500 per week or £26, 000 per year or £350 per week for a single claimant. Any income above this level will be reduced from your housing benefit entitlement meaning you may have to pay more towards your rent.

You will be affected by the cap if you are claiming universal credit or one of the following benefits: jobseekers allowance or income support or employment support allowance, as well as the following:

Housing benefit

Child tax credits

Industrial injuries disablement benefit

Child benefit

Carers allowance

Contribution based employment and support allowance

Contribution based job seekers allowance

Maternity allowance

Widower’s allowance, widows parents allowance and widows pension

Bereavement allowance

Guardians allowance

Reduced employment allowance

Severe disablement allowance.

How we can help

The Benefit Cap was introduced in April 2013 and it will be enforced by reducing your housing benefit element down by the amount you exceed the cap.  A minimum of 50p housing benefit will be left and you will be expected to make up the difference towards your rent from your other income.

The benefit cap is aimed to encourage those not working to look for work by ensuring no benefit claimaint will receive more in benefits than the average working household. If you would struggle with this reduction in income we can help. Households in receipt of Working Tax Credits will not be affected by the cap.

For those who are too ill to work we can assist in applying for any appropriate disability benefits, as many disability benefits will exempt a household from the benefit cap.

Contact our Income Maximisation team on 0151 510 5204 for more help.

Here is a link to another relevant benefit calculator:

DWP benefit cap calculator

 

Disability Living Allowance

What you need to know

Working age disability living allowance claims will now be based on medical assessment.

They will become known as ‘personal independence payments’.

The new system will be focused on what people can do.

It is expected that 20% will lose their award. This will include those on low rate care as this level will not exist in PIP.

How the Trust can help

We are making people aware of the changes in disability living allowance and personal independence payments. These are the main changes:

The changes to PIP will affect those aged 16 to 65 – including those original given and ‘indefinite’ awards.

Claimants will be ‘invited’ to make a claim for PIP. If the PIP claim form is not completed your DLA claim will end as the benefit is no longer available. We would advise claimants to contact our Welfare Benefits Advice team or another specialist agency for help with completing the form, as it does differ significantly from DLA.

PIP will require regular reviews and rely far more on medical evidence and assessment, similar to that currently used for ESA, so we would encourage claimants to attend appointments regularly, report conditions to GPs, engage with any specialists, support agencies and health care professionals that you are referred to.

PIP will not have a low level rate, only a ‘standard’ and ‘enhanced’ rate – those with low level care needs will lose out.