HOUSING BENEFITS AND GRANTS

Spare Bedroom Tax

The Spare Bedroom Tax was introduced in April 2013. This means that tenants of working age (under the state pension credit age) in social housing who are 'under-occupying' property, i.e. living in something that the government has decided is too large for their needs, will have their housing benefit reduced.

The rules will restrict Housing Benefit to allow for one bedroom for:

  • A couple - however from 1st April 2017 if a couple is unable to share a bedroom due to health reasons then both members of the couple should be allowed their own bedroom.
  • A person over 16
  • Two children of the same sex under 16
  • Two children of any sex who are under 10
  • Any other child (other than a foster child or child whose main home is elsewhere)
  • A disabled child who is in receipt of the middle or higher rate care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA), where the local authority decision maker is satisfied that the child cannot reasonably share a bedroom with another sibling (see below for further details)
  • A non-resident carer (or group of carers) providing overnight care to the tenant their partner a child or other non-dependant adult, where this is considered to be required'
  • An adult child who is in the Armed Forces, including the Reserve Forces, but who continues to live with parents (note: they are treated as continuing to live at home, even when deployed on operations)
  • Approved foster carers (and formal kinship carers in Scotland) so long as they have fostered a child, or become an approved foster carer in the last 12 months

How much will Housing Benefit be restricted by?

Where households are seen to be under-occupying because they have 'spare' bedrooms according to the rules, they will see a reduction in their Housing Benefit. Their 'eligible rent' (the figure used to calculate Housing Benefit) will be reduced by:

  • 14% for one extra bedroom
  • 25% for two or more extra bedrooms

However there are some important exceptions in The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea:

  • A disabled child in receipt of the middle or high rate component of DLA - Those whose children are said to be unable to share a bedroom because of severe disabilities will be able to claim Housing Benefit for an extra room. Local Authorities will then have to assess the individual circumstances of the claimant and their family and decide whether their disabilities are genuinely such that it is inappropriate for the children to be expected to share a room. This will involve considering not only the nature and severity of the disability but also the nature and frequency of care required during the night, and the extent and regularity of the disturbance to the sleep of the child who would normally be required to share the bedroom. In all cases this will come down to a matter of judgment of the facts. For the official government guidance: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/u2-2013.pdf
  • Medical Equipment - We have been advised by the RBKC Housing Team that a spare bedroom can also be exempt from the spare bedroom tax if it is the only place where necessary medical equipment can be stored. However, you must be able to prove that this room has ONLY been used for medical equipment for a long period of time and will not be used as a bedroom in the future.

Discretionary Housing Payments

In some cases, if the main claimant is unable to afford their rent due to a reduction in benefits, they can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment. If the application is accepted, the council will pay the shortfall between their rent and their benefits. For more information you can call the RBKC Benefits Service on 020 7361 3006.

Disabled Facilities Grant

A Disabled Facilities Grant is a local council grant to help towards the cost of essential adaptations to your home to enable your disabled child/adult to continue to live there.

For further information contact the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea housing department:

Address: Housing Needs, Housing Department, Hornton Street, W8 7NX.

Housing line: 0207 361 3008

Council Tax Reduction

Since April 2013 Council Tax Benefit was no longer available to claim, instead you can apply for Council Tax Reduction. You’ll get money off your Council Tax bill and you can apply for this if you own your home, rent, are unemployed or working.

What you’ll get

The most you can get is a 100% reduction. How much you get depends on:

  • where you live – each council runs their own scheme
  • your circumstances (eg income, number of children)
  • your household income – this includes things like savings, pension, your partner’s income
  • if your children live with you
  • if other adults live with you

Eligibility

You may get Council Tax Reduction if:

  • you pay Council Tax
  • you’re on a low income or claiming benefits

How to apply

Contact the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Benefits Service on 0207 361 3006

Television License Discount

Aged 74 and over You're entitled to a free over 75 TV Licence when you turn 75. If you're 74, you can apply for a short-term licence to cover you up to your 75th birthday.

Care home residents Residents may qualify for a discounted TV Licence fee of £7.50. Residents, staff and residents' families all need a separate licence for their own living area.

Registered as blind You're entitled to a 50% reduction in your TV Licence fee if you're certified as blind (severely sight impaired).

For more information please see the TV Licensing website www.tvlicensing.co.uk