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Welfare reform - latest news

Release Date: 04-Oct-2013
It’s now six months since the first big change to the benefits system was introduced – the under-occupancy charge.
If you're affected by the under-occupancy charge, contact us for help

If you're affected by the under-occupancy charge, contact us for help

This applies to tenants who are of working age and claiming full or partial Housing Benefit. You are entitled to one bedroom for each person or couple living as part of the household with the following exceptions:

• Two children under 16 of the same gender must share a bedroom.
• Two children under 10 are expected to share regardless of their gender.
• A disabled tenant or partner who needs an overnight carer may be allowed an extra bedroom but the rules for this are very strict.

After applying these rules, if you have one spare bedroom then your Housing Benefit will be reduced by 14% of your RENT each week. For two or more spare bedrooms, this reduction will be 25% or your RENT.

So, if you have one spare bedroom and your rent is £75 per week then the cost to you would be £10.50 per week. This is a cost that you are responsible for paying.

Important: This reduction in benefits is not a tax and does not go to the government. It is your rent payment; if you do not pay it, you are putting your home at risk.

Not paying the rent you owe also puts housing services to other tenants at risk. Council housing services in Kirklees are funded by the rent we collect; if rent arrears increase, these services may be affected. These include:

• Housing repairs, maintenance and improvement programmes, including aids and adaptations for those who need them and major schemes to improve energy efficiency
• Caretaking and grounds maintenance services that keep estates clean, safe and tidy
• Support for older, younger and vulnerable tenants to help them live independently
• Specialist debt, energy and employment advice services to help people make the most of their income and find training and work
• Dedicated neighbourhood, community protection and community engagement teams who work with tenants of all ages to help estates and communities thrive
• Support for tenants and residents to get involved in shaping housing services, including grants for TRAs and community leadership training

We understand that these are very challenging times and that you may be struggling to cope with the changes. But don’t bury your head in the sand because these problems will not go away. We have advisers who can help.

For help or information, please call us on 01484 414886. This is a free and confidential service.