ALMOST 1,000 people in Huntingdonshire will be affected when the ‘Bedroom Tax’ is introduced next week.
From Monday (April 1) housing benefit claimants will see their benefits cut by about 14 per cent if they are under-occupying their homes by one bedroom, or 25 per cent if they have two spare bedrooms.
The new rules state that one bedroom can be used by each couple in a household, each pair of children under 16 of the same gender, two children under the age of 10 regardless of gender, single people aged 16 and over, or disabled tenants who require non-resident overnight care.
According to Huntingdonshire District Council, there are 966 households in the district where properties are ‘under-occupied’ – 167 of which are under-occupied by two or more bedrooms.
A cap on housing benefit is also being introduced in the summer which will affect 30 claimants in the district who stand to lose between 70p and £260 a week towards their rent. The amount a couple can claim will be capped at £500 a week while a single person with no children will see their benefits capped at £350.
One suggested way to help alleviate the impact of the Bedroom Tax – as it has been called by Labour – is to take in a lodger. However, this could affect other benefits
Julia Barber, HDC’s head of customer services, said: “It is very important that benefit claimants assess the impact of how taking in a lodger will affect their benefits, and I would urge them to seek advice before making any final decisions.”
HDC has said that tenants wishing to let out a room must contact its housing benefit team as well as check with their landlord to seek permission. And any tenant who claims Jobseeker’s Allowance or Income Support would also need to contact the Department for Work and Pensions.
A spokesman for HDC explained that if a room is let to a lodger, the first £20 per week is disregarded and the remainder is counted as income. If the room is let to a boarder, paying for a room with meals included, then the first £20 per week is disregarded and 50 per cent of the remainder is counted as income.
There is also a tax issue. If tenants let out a room and collect more than £2,500 a year in rent, they must register for self assessment.
INFORMATION: Useful details about the changes to benefits can be found at www.yourbenefitsarechanging.co.uk/