The government's advice is for those who have contracted the Coronavirus not to sleep in the same bed as anyone else and to distance themselves from other household members for 7 days.
They are also recommending that people with certain illnesses 'shield' themselves that could involve having to sleep in a separate bedroom.
But there has been no change to the Bedroom Tax rules to make any exceptions due to the Coronavirus outbreak.
So where someone who is self-isolating or shielding themselves due to the Coronavirus and so is sleeping in a 'spare room' any under-occupancy change ie reduction due to the Bedroom Tax, will continue to be made.
The only situations where a HB Office may be persuaded to lift an underoccupancy charge is where:
A disabled child - who is in receipt of mid or high rate care component of DLA - is having to sleep in a separate bedroom due to 'shielding' (see below).
One member of a couple - who is in receipt of DLA or PIP - is having to sleep in a separate bedroom due to 'shielding' (see below).
Can an extra bedroom be given due to disability needs of a child?
Since 4th December 2013 the Housing Benefit Regulations have allowed a disabled child, who receives Disability Living Allowance care component at the middle or high rate, and who would otherwise be expected to share a bedroom but due to their disability is not reasonably able to do so, to be allocated a bedroom to themselves.
Where that child is normally able to share a bedroom but due to having to 'shield' themselves they are now being advised to sleep in a separate bedroom then the HB Office may decide that this fits the criteria for that child to be allocated their own bedroom for the duration that they are required to 'shield' themselves.
The HB Office will want evidence of the DLA award and generally a letter from a doctor or specialist stating that due to their disability and the current situation the child requires their own bedroom.
Even where this is the case, it might not necessarily mean that the family will be allocated an extra bedroom - for example take a family with three daughters all under 16 one of whom is disabled: they would be deemed to need a three bedroom house whether or not you take account of the disabled daughter.
So whether an extra bedroom is needed will depend on the make up of the family.
Bedroom each for couples who cannot sleep in same room due to disability
Generally a couple - whether the tenant and their partner or a non-dependant couple, will be expected to only need one bedroom. However, there are exceptions to this as outlined below.
The Size Criteria rules changed from 1st April 2017 and HB Regulations now allow a couple a bedroom each where:
- The HB Office is happy that it is unreasonable for one member of a couple to share a bedroom with their partner because of either partner’s disabilities^ (this could be the claimant and their partner, or it could be a non-dependant couple etc living in the property), and
- The disabled member of the couple is in receipt of:
• Middle or high rate care component of Disability Living Allowance, or
• A daily living component Personal Independence Payment, or
• Attendance Allowance at the higher rate~, or
• Armed Forces Independence Payment.
So where one member of a couple, who is normally able to share a bedroom, but due to having to 'shield' themselves they are now being advised to sleep in a separate bedroom - then the HB Office may decide that this fits the criteria for that couple to be allocated a bedroom each for the duration that one member of the couple is required to 'shield' themselves.