The Bedroom Tax created by those with extra houses

As each day goes by, we are creeping towards 1st April. As we all know on the 1st, it is April Fools (until 12 noon), ironic that this is also a significant date in the Government’s Welfare Reform Agenda. Unfortunately the changes are not a joke and Cornwall will be heavily impacted in a number of ways. One item that I wish was a spoof, as the reality is going to be devastating to so many people.

The item in question is what is officially known as the ‘Housing Benefit Under Occupancy’ rule, or as it is more commonly known, The Bedroom Tax. Under the new rules, tenants (Pensioners are exempt)  who are in receipt of Housing Benefit (HB) will be allowed one bedroom if they are single, or a couple. To qualify for an additional (one) bedroom the following criteria are applied:

  • A child
  • Two children under 10
  • Two children of the same sex and up to the age of 16
  • Each child over the age of 10 of the opposite sex
  • other single people, or couples aged 16 of over

If a tenant in social housing (council house), has an additional bedroom(s), your Housing Benefit will be reduced. It should also be noted, this ‘tax’ will be applied even if you want to move to a smaller place, but cannot due to the lack of availability of either private or social housing available in your area.

Some people may argue that people sitting in homes with extra rooms should downsize, and allow their house to be better utilised. But I would say, yes in parts I could agree to this, BUT only if an alternative house is found is suited to them with help given to move.

If you find yourself in the position of having an extra bedroom the following rule applies:
One extra bedroom your HB will be reduced by 14% of your overall rent. Which is around £10 per week using the average Cornwall Council own rental prices*.Two or more extra bedrooms the HB will be reduced by 25% of your overall rent. This adds up to around £18 per week.

It is estimated the impact of the ‘Bedroom Tax will affect at least 1000 of Cornwall Council’s own tenants and at least 3,000 of the other Registered Social Landlord (RSL) tenants.

This extra burden on already hard-pressed residents is on top of Cornwall Council’s shocking decision to make those in receipt of Council Tax Benefit (CTB) pay 25% of their Council Tax. Worse is yet to come, as from April 2014 (for Cornwall), the Governments dreaded Universal Credit scheme will be in operation.

There are a few exemptions. Bereavement, or could afford to pay the rent for the last 12 months without claiming HB. Also tenants who need an overnight carer maybe considered entitled to an extra bedroom. Allowance may also be considered for an extra bedroom for an extra child. I am really unhappy with the words maybe, or considered for an extra room. That could lead to unnecessary extra assessments, leading to added pressure on families. Apart from those I have listed, there are no other exemptions that I have seen or been told about.

I would really urge anyone who is in receipt of the HB to get in contact with their landlords ASAP. Again, I have been told at least 400 of Cornwall Council’s tenants have raised their concerns about the implementation of this scheme. It is certainly not a good time to be on a low-household income in this Country and will only get worse!!

*Rents of other housing provide are higher than Cornwall Council rents and the exact amount of the reduction in benefit will depend on the actual rent

9 comments

  • mikaela

    this is appalling, at a time when those that are financially vulnerable are suffering it feels as if the government is about to put the boot in!
    my parents have lived in their modest three bedroom council house for fifty five years, raised five children there and lovingly tended it all those years. my father worked for forty years at British rail, paying his taxes and saving for a small pension. now it appears that, if this is applied to them, they will have to up and move out of the village they love when they are well in their seventies.
    It feels as if the less well off are paying for the greed of the bankers and the miss management of the economy.Cornwall is not a rich county, with even less money in peoples pockets our economy will grind to a halt leaving more people unemployed and seeking benefits. this is a viscous circle that needs to be stopped.
    there thats me off my soap box for the day!

  • Sandy Angove

    Private tenants have been affected by the ‘bedroom tax’ for some years now.

    There have been many postings on facebook about what actually counts as a bedroom. It’s been said that, unless your tenancy defines the use of each room that is included in your tenancy, ‘small’ rooms may count only as a box room and not a bedroom. This surprised me, especially as I saw suggestions that a room as ‘big’ as 9’x7′ would not count as a bedroom. Has CC any view on this?

    And does CC have criteria as to who will be eligible to for discretionary payments of HB? I believe the Govt was to look again at the eligibility criteria on the number of bedrooms for disabled people and foster carers. Anything out on this?

  • Andrew Wallis

    Hi Sandy,

    Cornwall Council is looking at those ‘small’ bedrooms on a case by case bases.

  • anonymouse

    About time – this has bugger all to do with the bankers bonuses. This is about making a welfare system affordable.

    Why should someone else pay taxes to allow a couple to live in a 3 bedroom house. Its unfortunate that some people who have lived somewhere they call home for a long time will be moved on – but it’s a benefit not a right. For every couple that gets to stay in a council house once the kids have gone, there is another family (with kids) with nowhere to live.

    Benefits should pay for necessities not niceties.

  • Sandy Angove

    I agree with anonymouse; but at present unfortunately there are not enough small rented homes for people in larger ones to downsize to. If HB claimants can’t find anywhere within the social housing system to move to, they will look in the private sector. Again, there’s a shortage of 1 bedroom properties -and the rents are higher.

  • Japsto

    Why should tax payers subsidise one person in a three bed council house. Its a joke, if they paid the market rent it would be something but this extravagance is just not affordable or justifiable anymore.

  • anonymouse

    Just noticed the title to this page – a bit of skewing the facts and creating punchy headlines to suit your pet project again

    How do those with extra houses create the bedroom tax (extra houses are a differenet subject altogether).

    Surely the bedroom tax is/was created by politicians allowing couiples and small families to stay in council houses that are too big for them.

  • Andrew Wallis

    You really missed the point, the rules were made up by politicians who HAVE extra homes. It has nothing to do with second homes etc.

    You seem to have a beef on everything I say, you might want to start your own blog to give your views.

  • anonymouse

    If I were a politician I might, you are so you should expect to be questioned on your viewpoints. But for the record I dont have a beef with everyting you say, far from it – but I do occasionally (check how many blogs I have commented on) when you get up on your high horse.

    Does it really matter whether I post anonymousely or not – the questions I post or comments I make are usually relevant – so just answer them and please don’t whine because you dont like them 🙂 (just incase you weren’t aware smiley donotes humour to prevent you taking umbrage again).

    You keep toting democracy on here. Well part of democracy is being accountable and accountable means being questioned and absolutely nothing in our constitution says that that this can’t be anonymouse.

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