Housing Benefit

Many residents will be entitled to housing benefit.  Forms and advice can be obtained from your local authority or from Tamar offices.  You will need to provide the Council with proof of your identity, proof of your tenancy and proof of your income and savings.

If you do claim housing benefit, you must inform the Council if your income changes or you have any other change in circumstance.  If you fail to tell the Council of a change you will be liable to repay any housing benefit you have been paid.  However, you should remember that even if you are entitled to housing benefit, you are still responsible for paying your rent.

What You Need to Know About Changes to Housing Benefit

The Government is reducing the amount of housing benefit some people can claim.

If you claim housing benefit to help pay your rent you may be affected by changes from April 2013. The changes mean that some people will get less housing benefit than they did before.

We know that many of you will be worried about what this could mean for you and your family.

How many bedrooms do you have?

From April 2013, if you live in a Tamar property and you have one or more ‘spare’ bedrooms your housing benefit may be reduced.

This could affect you:
- if you are 16 to 61 years old
- even if you only get a small amount of housing benefit – for example, if you are working
- even if you are sick or disabled

You won’t be affected if:
- you live in a one bedroom flat or bedsit, or if
- you or your partner are old enough to receive pension credits. In April 2013 the pension credit age will be around 61 years and 6 months

The new benefit rules will apply from April 2013, so now is the time to get help and support.

What is a ‘spare’ bedroom?

Under the new rules if you have more bedrooms than the Government says you need, you will lose part of your housing benefit. The new rules mean you will be allocated one bedroom for:
- each adult couple
- any other person aged 16 or over
- two children of the same sex under the age of 16
- two children under the age of 10 regardless of their sex
- any other child
- a carer (who does not normally live with you) if you or your partner need overnight care.

It does not matter how the ‘spare’ bedroom is used, the new rules will apply even if:
- you and your partner need to sleep apart because of a medical condition
- the main residence of your children is another address, but you have a spare room for when they stay with you.

What happens if you have a ‘spare’ bedroom?

If you have one ‘spare’ bedroom your housing benefit will be cut by 14% of the rent you pay every week. If you have two or more spare bedrooms, you will lose 25%.

If your benefit is cut you will have to pay your landlord the difference between your housing benefit and your rent.

What should I do?

If you are worried about being able to afford to pay your rent from April 2013 you should ask for advice now. If you don’t pay your rent you could lose your home, so talk to your landlord about different ways to pay.

You can also:

- Talk to Tamar about transferring to a smaller home or taking in a lodger
- Contact your council to ask about extra financial help. - Councils have a limited amount of money available to make discretionary payments towards housing costs. Your council may prioritise your claim if you have a disability and your house has been adapted.
- Get in touch with your local citizens advice bureau (http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/) or other local advice agencies
- Make sure you are claiming all the benefits you can – for example, money to help with the costs of a disability
- Try to find some paid work to increase your income
- Get more information about the cap on benefits by calling the Government’s information line on 0845 605 7064.

Do you have a disability and need overnight care?

If you are of working age, have a disability and need a ‘spare’ bedroom so that a carer can stay overnight you should contact your local council now so that staff can help you keep more of your housing benefit.