The government claims the forthcoming ‘bedroom tax’ will cut the £23bn annual bill for housing benefit, encourage people to get jobs and free up more living space for overcrowded families.
However, housing charities are warning that it will result in greater homelessness and increased levels of rent arrears.
With so much controversy surrounding the issue, it’s important to know what the ‘bedroom tax’ is and how it works.
What is the bedroom tax?
A forthcoming change in housing benefit rules has been dubbed the ‘bedroom tax’ – and the name has stuck.
Typically, those who claim housing benefit to help pay rent receive between £50 and £100 a week, but this is all about to change come April.
From next month, families will be assessed for the number of bedrooms they actually need, and those deemed to have too much will have their payments slashed.
How is this determined?
If tenants are found to have one spare room, the amount of rent eligible for housing benefit will be cut by 14%.
If they are deemed to have two or more spare rooms, the cut will stand at 25%, resulting in an average loss of about £14 to £16 a week.
Under the new rules, each adult or couple is allowed one bedroom and children under 10 are expected to share. Children under 16 are expected to share if they are the same gender.
Who will be affected?
The change will affect council tenants and those who rent from housing associations. Private sector tenants will not be affected.
The government estimates that 660,000 households will have their benefit cut, which equates to roughly a third of social sector claimants. Only those of working age will suffer cuts.