Saturday, 04 July 2015

DWP to consult on social homes under-occupation

The government has said that it ‘does not expect’ changes to the shared accommodation rate to be applied to social housing tenants.

Since the beginning of January, single people aged between 25 and 34 renting in the private sector have only been able to claim housing benefit based on the cost of a room in shared house, rather than a modest one bed flat. This restriction previously applied to all single people under 25-years-old.

The change means people are potentially receiving reduced benefits even if they are not living in shared accommodation.

Confusion has surrounded how single people in the social rented sector will be affected by similar changes which are scheduled to be brought in next year.

An impact assessment from October 2011 looking at ‘size criteria’ for social tenants says: ‘From 1 April 2013 it is intended to introduce size criteria for new and existing working-age housing benefit claimants living in the social rented sector.

‘The size criteria will replicate the size criteria that apply to housing benefit claimants in the private rented sector and whose claims are assessed using the local housing allowance rules.

‘The applicable maximum rent will be reduced by a national percentage rate depending on how many bedrooms the household is considered not to require.’

Some have claimed that this means a single person in a 1-bed social flat will be treated the same as a single person in a 1-bed private flat.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: ‘We will base under-occupation in the social rented sector on the size criteria used in the private sector. We are looking at how this will work in practice and will consult with local authority associations on draft regulations shortly.

‘As with now, we do not expect the shared accommodation rate to apply to any tenants living in the social rented sector.’

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