As part of Welfare Reform, the Government have removed the spare room subsidy (often talked about as ‘bedroom tax’) for Housing Benefit in social rented accommodation.
This means that if you live in a home with more bedrooms than it is stated you need, the amount of Housing Benefit you receive may have been reduced. You can use our calculator on our website www.citywesthousingtrust.org.uk to find out how your Housing Benefit payments may have been affected.
City West are committed to supporting you through Welfare Reform and that’s why we want to make sure you’re aware of the available options to help you to manage the ‘bedroom tax’:
1) Pay the amount outstanding towards your rent
The majority of our customers affected by the ‘bedroom tax’ would like to remain in their current home and therefore have told us that they will pay the amount outstanding towards their rent due to their loss in Housing Benefit. We offer a wide range of payment options to offer you the most choice and flexibility.
You feel you may not be able to afford the ‘bedroom tax’, then you may want to consider an exchange to smaller accommodation. We’re providing a ‘rightsizing’ service to make sure that if you do choose to move, then we can help you find the right home for you.As well as Salford Home Search, City West have signed up to Homeswapper, a national database of properties and people who want to exchange/swap their homes. If you would like to move or see what exchanges are available, you can register for free.
3) Achieve more through City West’s Enterprise Programme
Through our Enterprise Programme, City West offer a range of training, apprenticeship and work experience opportunities such as our ‘don’t keep it under your hat’ Entrepreneur Programme. If you are interested in seeking more information about training and employment opportunities please contact our Enterprise Team on 0161 605 7792 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
4) Be wise with your money!
Our Financial Support Officers will be able to help if you need to make a backdate request for housing benefit. They will also be able to provide you with a directory of the local and national support agencies who can help you with:
- Budgeting advice and help to make your money go further
- Benefit advice / benefit checks
- Help with welfare benefit applications
- Help setting up a bank account
- Help with grant applications
- Debt advice / referral
- Affordable credit advice
- Welfare Reform: ask for advice to help you through benefit changes
5) Access IT Training and spaces where you can get online
Benefits are moving online and the Government has said it wants to make the majority of welfare benefit applications via the internet in the future. Developing your IT skills with City West will make it much easier when it comes to applying for welfare benefits via the internet. We’re currently mapping out places where you can get access to computers and the internet in your local community, from your library to your local City West office. As part of City West’s customer training, we are also running basic IT training courses for customers who want to develop their IT skills. Our IT training courses cover the basics of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and the internet
6) Apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment
If you need some time to make arrangements to manage the ‘bedroom tax’, Salford City Council’s Housing Benefit Service has a limited facility to award what is known as a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) to cases. This may help you to continue to afford to pay your rent for a short period. We can help you to apply for a DHP or you can apply directly through Salford City Council’s website at www.salford.gov.uk or by calling 0161 794 4711. Don’t forget, awards of DHPs are only to help with housing costs for a short period.
7) Rent out your spare bedroom
The Department for Work and Pensions has suggested that people could respond to the ‘bedroom tax’ by taking in a lodger to fill a ‘spare’ bedroom. If you take in a lodger to fill your ‘spare’ bedroom, the bedroom will then be classed as occupied. As long as all the bedrooms in your property are occupied on a permanent basis you will not be classed as under occupying your property and will not be affected by the charge. However, the rent you receive from the lodger may affect your benefit entitlement. The first £20 of rent received from lodgers is disregarded when calculating housing benefit entitlement. Also if the income from letting a room exceeds a certain amount (known as a threshold) then you may also be liable to pay income tax. You are advised to obtain independent advice about the tax implications if you wish to rent your room.If you are a starter tenant, your tenancy agreement does not allow you to take in a lodger. If you are an assured tenant, please see our Taking in a Lodger: Frequently Asked Questions
Factsheet on our website for further information.The decision to rent out a room is a personal one for the customer: families with young children may be concerned about sharing their home with another adult who is not part of their household; some people may feel that there is not enough living space for another adult or there may be no market for the room