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Housing benefit changes

On 1 April 2013, there were 2 changes to housing benefit affecting:

  • the number of people occupying a property
  • the people living with non-dependent adults

Under occupancy

Working age council tenants claiming housing benefit are only able to claim for the bedrooms they are deemed to need under the occupancy rules.

What is working age?

Working age is anyone who is under state pension age.

What is under-occupancy?

Under the occupancy rules, if you have more bedrooms than the Government says you need, you are deemed to be under occupying your property and will lose part, or all, of your housing benefit. 

You are allowed 1 bedroom for each of the following:

  • each adult couple
  • any other person aged 16 or over
  • 2 children under the age of 16 (of the same sex)
  • 2 children under the age of 10
  • any other child
  • a carer (who doesn't normally live with you) if you, or your partner, need overnight care

From 1 April 2017, the following changes were made to allow an extra bedroom, if one was available, for:

  • a carer (who doesn't normally live with you) if a child is unable to share due to disability or medical condition. This also applies to adults unable to share.
  • couples unable to share due to a disability or medical condition.

What happens if you are under occupying?

Your Housing Benefit will be reduced, depending on how many extra bedrooms you have. For example, if you have:

  • 1 extra bedroom, your Housing Benefit will be cut by 14% of the full rent (ie if your rent is £60 a week, you will lose £8.40)
  • 2, or more, extra bedrooms you will receive around 25% less (ie if your rent is £60 a week, you will lose £15)

Please note: these amounts are estimates based on an average rent in North Ayrshire and will vary depending on circumstances. If your benefit is reduced you will have to pay your landlord the difference between your housing benefit and your rent.

What does this mean for you?

If you are a single person living on your own, or a couple living together in a home with 2 bedrooms, your housing benefit will be reduced by 14 per cent of your full rent. If you live in a 3 bedroom home you will lose 25%.

If you are a single parent or a couple living in a 3 bedroom home with a boy and a girl under 10 years of age your housing benefit will be cut by 14 per cent of your full rent. If you live in a 4 bedroom home you will lose 25%.

If you are a single parent or a couple living in a 3 bedroom home with 2 girls or 2 boys under 16 years of age your housing benefit will be cut by 14% of your full rent. If you live in a 4 bedroom home you will lose 25%.

What are the options?

You could:

  1. Pay the difference yourself and stay in your current home.
  2. Think about moving to a property with the number of bedrooms needed for your family size. There is a shortage of 1 bedroom properties in North Ayrshire, contact your Housing Office for more information.
  3. Take in a lodger to occupy your extra bedroom. Please note: this could affect the amount of Housing Benefit you are entitled to. For more information, contact your Housing Office.

Council tenants can contact the Welfare Reform Advice Team. Details can be found at the bottom of this page.

Non-dependent reduction

If you have a non-dependent living with you, your housing benefit may be reduced.

A non-dependant is someone over the age of 18 who lives in your home but is not your partner, joint tenant, or lodger. This could be:

  • an adult son or daughter
  • a relative or friend

If you have a non-dependant person living in your home, your housing and council tax benefit may be reduced by a certain amount each week. The amount depends on the circumstances of the person living with you. See the current level of non-dependant deductions (PDF, 107kb). Adult non-dependants living in your home are expected to contribute towards your household costs, including rent and Council Tax. 

Remember that it is you, the tenant, who's responsible for paying your rent.

Deductions do not apply to people:

  • under 18 years of age
  • in full time education or on Youth Training Schemes
  • in receipt of Pension Credit

There is also no deduction from your benefit if you, or your partner:

  • are registered blind
  • receive Attendance Allowance
  • receive care component of Disability Living Allowance
  • receive Daily Living component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Contact

Contact the Welfare Reform Advice team for advice:

Email: WelfareReformTeam@north-ayrshire.gov.uk

North Ayrshire Council Housing Services
Welfare Reform Advice Team
34-36 Main Street
Kilbirnie
KA25 7BY

Telephone: 0300 999 4606 (calls charged at local rate from landlines and mobiles).