benefit-changes-logo-rgb-b_v_Variation_1Since April 2013, anyone who the government believes is living in a home that is bigger than they need (known as under occupying), will receive less Housing Benefit.

The following are allowed a bedroom:

  • Every adult couple
  • Any other adult aged 16 or over
  • Any two children of the same sex aged under 16
  • Any two children regardless of sex aged under 10
  • Any other child aged under sixteen
The following are allowed an additional bedroom:
  • A foster carer
  • Adult child in the Armed Forces
  • Disabled children who are unable to share a bedroom
The amount that your Housing Benefit will be reduced by depends on how many extra rooms you have so:
  • If you have one extra bedroom you will receive 14% less (e.g. if your rent is £60 a week you will lose £8.40)
  • If you have two or more extra bedrooms you will receive around 25% less (if your rent is £60 a week you will lose £15)
Please remember that these amounts are only estimates based on an average rent in Newcastle and will vary depending on your circumstances.

The changes affect those people who are claiming Housing Benefit and are of working age (people above working age will not be affected but please check with your Tenancy & Estate Officer as there are some exceptions).

If you move onto Universal Credit and are under occupying your home, you will still be affected and the housing element of your Universal Credit payment will be reduced.

  • Who is exempt from Housing Benefit reductions

    Since April 2013 you are no longer of 'working age’ if you or your partner were born before 05 October 1951. That means you are exempt from the under occupation charge and will not have your Housing Benefit reduced.

    If you were born after that date you can use the table below to see on what date you will become exempt. From that time you will no longer have to pay the under occupation charge. This information might be useful when you are deciding whether or not to move to a smaller house, or how long you can afford to make up the difference between your Housing Benefit and your rent.

    (These dates relate to the date on which you can apply for Pension Credit. You do not have to qualify for Pension Credit to be exempt from the under occupation charge.)

    If you are in a couple, providing one of you is no longer of 'working age', you will continue to be exempt once you transfer to Universal Credit.

    But - if you are making a new claim for Universal Credit or you have transferred to Universal Credit before reaching 'non-working age', both you and your partner must be 'non working age' to be exempt.

    Date of birth

     Date of exemption

    06/09/1951 - 05/10/1951  06/03/2013
    06/10/1951 - 05/11/1951  06/05/2013
    06/11/1951 - 05/12/1951  06/07/2013
    06/12/1951 - 05/01/1952  06/09/2013
    06/01/1952 - 05/02/1952  06/11/2013
    06/02/1952 - 05/03/1952  06/01/2014
    06/03/1952 - 05/04/1952  06/03/2014
    06/04/1952 - 05/05/1952  06/05/2014
    06/05/1952 - 05/06/1952  06/07/2014
    06/06/1952 - 05/07/1952  06/09/2014
    06/07/1952 - 05/08/1952  06/11/2014
    06/08/1952 - 05/09/1952  06/01/2015
    06/09/1952 - 05/10/1952  06/03/2015
    06/10/1952 - 05/11/1952  06/05/2015
    06/11/1952 - 05/12/1952  06/07/2015
    06/12/1952 - 05/01/1953  06/09/2015
    06/01/1953 - 05/02/1953  06/11/2015
    06/02/1953 - 05/03/1953  06/01/2016
    06/03/1953 - 05/04/1953  06/03/2016
    06/04/1953 - 05/05/1953  06/07/2016
    06/05/1953 - 05/06/1953  06/11/2016
    06/06/1953 - 05/07/1953  06/03/2017
    06/07/1953 - 05/08/1953  06/07/2017
    06/08/1953 - 05/09/1953  06/11/2017
    06/09/1953 - 05/10/1953  06/03/2018
    06/10/1953 - 05/11/1953  06/07/2018
    06/11/1953 - 05/12/1953  06/11/2018
  • Not happy with a Bedroom Tax decision?

    If you are unhappy with a decision about the Bedroom Tax it is possible to challenge that decision. To do this you must have a valid reason why you believe you should not have your Housing Benefit reduced. Reasons could include:
    • A disabled person who is unable to share a bedroom or uses a ‘spare bedroom’ to house medical equipment
    • You share parental responsibility and your child/children stay with you for part of the week.
    • A person in the household has mental/physical health problems.
    • A child who has previously suffered domestic violence lives with you and needs a safe space.
    For more advice on how to challenge a Bedroom Tax decision contact a local advice agency or contact your Tenancy & Estates Officer There are only limited reasons why you would not be subject to the Bedroom Tax. Even if you fit one of the reasons above and believe you should not have your Housing Benefit reduced, the council is not currently able to award an additional room. There are a number of test cases currently being heard in court. If you are in a similar situation to those being heard, you should submit an appeal now. If the test case is successful you may be able to get back more of the Housing Benefit you lost through the Bedroom Tax and be allowed an extra bedroom. If you wait until the test case is decided before doing anything, you may get the situation resolved then but you would not be able to claim any back dated Housing Benefit. There is more information on the Disability Rights UK website

    Remember! There is no guarantee that the test cases will be successful and you could still be liable for a reduction in Housing Benefit. It is also important to remember that even if the cases are successful and you are allowed an additional room, if you are still under occupying you will have your Housing Benefit reduced in line with the number of ‘spare’ rooms you still have. Don’t forget! If you do challenge a Bedroom Tax decision you must continue to pay your rent (after any Housing Benefit has been deducted) while the cases are in court, until an outcome has been decided.

    And finally... If you need any information and advice on anything to do with the Bedroom Tax or any of the other benefit changes, please see the other pages on this website or contact your Tenancy & Estates Officer.

  • Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP)

    If you are in financial hardship because you are under occupying and can't find the extra money to pay your rent you can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment. These are managed by Newcastle City Council.

    Lots of things will be taken into consideration when your application is being assessed such as:

    • The shortfall between your Housing Benefit and the amount of rent you have to pay
    • What you have already done to find the money for the shortfall
    • The financial and medical circumstances of you, your partner or any other dependants/people living in your home
    • Any income and expenditure of you, your partner or any other dependants/people living in your home
    • Any debts of the tenant and their family
    • Any special circumstances of the tenant and their family
    Whilst anyone fitting the circumstances above can apply for a DHP, the fund is being prioritised for disabled adults living in “substantially adapted” accommodation and foster carers .These applicants will still need to provide relevant supporting evidence with their claim.

    Visit the Newcastle City Council website page on Discretionary Housing Payments for further information.

  • What are the options?

    There are some options available including:

    • Pay the difference yourself and stay where you are. You can get help with budgeting from our Advice and Support Team
    • Think about moving to a property with the number of bedrooms for your family size. Speak to your Tenancy & Estates Officer for more information.
    • Take a sharer in to use your extra bedroom/s. You should be aware that doing so could affect the amount of Housing Benefit you are entitled to. If you are thinking about taking a sharer find out more on our taking in a lodger section of the website or contact your Tenancy & Estates Officer.