Q: Can you explain what the new ‘Bedroom Tax’ means?

A: The ‘bedroom tax’ is the name being given to the cuts in housing benefit that come into effect in April.

Tenants in social housing (rented homes owned by local authorities or non-profit housing associations) with extra bedrooms face big cuts to their housing benefit from April.

One extra bedroom will mean a cut in housing benefit of a seventh (14%). Two or more spare bedrooms cut the benefit by a huge 25%. Families will either have to find the money to cope with this cut or move to a home with less bedrooms.

These housing benefit reductions are obviously intended to encourage council tenants to ‘downsize’ by moving from larger, under-occupied homes to smaller, more affordable social housing.

But many are understandably worried they’re going to penalise certain families, for example ones where separated parents have a spare room for when they share custody of their child children, or families with two children under 10 as siblings are expected to share a room under these new rules (age limit increases to 16 if siblings are the same sex).

If you’re worried about these further benefit cuts and want some advice on how to manage them, visit the Citizens Advice Bureau website or call an advisor on 08444 111 444 (England) or 08444 77 20 20 (Wales).

Andrea Ventress, Money Expert


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