New exemptions from the bedroom tax come into law
From 1st April 2017 the rules are changing to allow an additional bedroom for disabled children or non-dependent adults who require overnight care and for couples who are unable to share a bedroom for health reasons. Previously people in these circumstances could have been subject to the bedroom tax.
The 'bedroom tax' means that working age people who get help towards their rent through Housing Benefit can have the amount they receive restricted if they are considered to have too many bedrooms.
Ever since the policy was proposed Carers UK have campaigned for it to be scrapped. We’ve argued that these bedrooms are not spare but needed by families providing care.
In November the Supreme Court ruled in favour of two families; Carers UK member Paul Rutherford and his wife Susan care for their profoundly disabled 14-year-old grandson, Warren, and live in a specially adapted home, which has a room for a care worker to stay when providing overnight care. This had been deemed as a spare bedroom and, as a result, their housing benefit had been reduced.
The Court also ruled in favour of Jacqueline and Jayson Carmichael, who are unable to share a bedroom due to Jacqueline’s severe disability.
To reflect the Court’s ruling the Government has changed the law to create further exemptions for carers from the Bedroom Tax. This means that from the 1st of April:
- A couple that could not share a room because of a disability – could now have an additional room. This is already allowed for disabled children that cannot share a bedroom with another child.
- A child that is disabled – may need overnight care from someone other than the parent/s and may need an additional bedroom can have one. This was previously allowed for a disabled adult, but not for children.
Although we are delighted that the law is being changed we are concerned about the way the change is being communicated to local authority staff in charge of Housing Benefit as the guidance given to them appears to attempt to limit the kinds of health conditions that could result in an extra room.
Emily Holzhausen OBE, Director of Policy at Carers UK said:
“After more than five years of campaigning for a change during which families already under financial pressure have had to cut back on essentials and to apply and reapply for Discretionary Housing Payments we are pleased that the law has now been changed.
It shouldn’t have taken families having to take cases to the Supreme Court for the Government to recognise that the bedrooms these families are using are not spare but being used to provide essential care – the cost of which would otherwise fall on the State.
We encourage any families that think the change in the law might mean they will no longer face restrictions on the support they receive with housing costs to look at our bedroom tax information pages or contact our advice team.”