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On the 12th March the Government announced in a Written Ministerial Statement that it will be amending the Bedroom Tax Regulations.
'to allow foster carers an additional room, whether or not a child has been placed with them or they are between placements, so long as they fostered a child, or become an approved foster carer in the last 12 months.'
This does NOT mean that foster carers are excluded from the Bedroom Tax as suggested by many news reports. And some foster carers could still be affected.
Until the amending Regulations are published it is not known if the Government's intention is to give just one extra bedroom to a foster care family - even where that family may be fostering more than one child or young person.
Adult children in Armed Forces
'Adult children who are in the Armed Forces but who continue to live with parents will be treated as continuing to live at home, even when deployed on operations' and that in these circumstances no non-dependant deduction will be made 'until an adult child returns home.'
This does NOT mean that parents of children in the Armed Forces are excluded from the Bedroom Tax as suggested by many news reports. Take a mum with one adult child who would normally live with her in a three bedroom house. If that adult child is serving in the Armed Forces they will now be treated as living at home even when on operations, but mum would still be deemed to have one 'extra' bedroom.
NOTE: The parent's home has to be the adult child's normal home so the HB Office will be looking to see that the parent has reported that adult child as living in the property before 1st April - when the Bedroom Tax rules start, and if the parent notifies of a change in circumstances, ie that the adult child has moved in - there would then be a non dependant deduction (see Housing Benefit tab for explanation of what this is) for the periods that adult child is living in the property.
Severely disabled children
Severely disabled children will now be allowed a room of their own if their condition makes it unreasonable for another child to share with them due to the disturbance that would be caused to them during the night.
If a claimant says that their children are unable to share a bedroom under these circumstances, the Local Authority will have to satisfy themselves this is the case. A claim will have to be supported by medical evidence such as the child receiving Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for their medical condition. Local Authorities must also consider 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.
This does NOT mean that families with severely disabled children are excluded from the Bedroom Tax - as suggested in many media reports. But that where the HB Office accept that a child has a severe disability and due to this disability they would cause a disturbance to another child at night time were they to share a room, and this disturbance is unreasonable - that the severely disabled child should be allocated a bedroom to themselves.
Students studying away from home.
Households where there is a room kept for a student studying away from home will not be deemed to be under-occupying if the student is away for less than 52 weeks (under housing benefit) or 6 months (under Universal Credit).
Under housing benefit rules students are exempt from non-dependant deductions (see Housing Benefit tab for explanation of what this is), however full-time students will not be exempt from the Housing Cost Contribution (HCC) which replaces non-dependent deductions under Universal Credit. All young people under 21 are exempt from the HCC, but students over 21 will face a contribution in the region of £15 per week.