Housing Systems: Combating poverty and sustaining tenancies.

The amount of a claimant's Housing Costs Element varies - it all depends non the amount of their rent and certain other circumstances.

The amount of the Housing Costs Element included in a social housing claimant's assessment of Universal Credit is worked out by:

1. Taking the eligible rent ie gross rent less ineligible service charges.

2. Converting this into a monthly figure taking account of any rent free weeks.

3. Considering whether the rent and /or service charges are higher than it is reasonable for a Housing Costs Element to meet. 

4. Considering whether the tenant is under-occupying their property - and making a Bedroom Tax  reduction if they are.

5. Deciding whether any 'housing costs contribution' needs to be deducted ie non-dependant deductions for other (non-partner) adults living in the property.

The Bedroom Tax

The DWP will need to consider whether a social housing claimant and their 'extended benefit unit' (broadly, their household, as below) are living in a property that is too large for their needs. If they are, then their Universal Credit award will be reduced. The  UC Regulations allow one bedroom for:
  • The claimant and any joint claimant ie partner.
  • Each non-dependant living as part of the household.
  • Each young person aged 16 or over
  • For children, i.e. anyone under 16 living in the property: 
    • a child under 16 would be expected to share with one other child of the same gender (maximum of two to a room),
    • a child under 10 would be expected to share with one other child aged under 10 regardless of gender* (maximum of two to a room),

Special rules apply in certain circumstances:

  • For certain couples who, due to disability, are unable to share a bedroom.
  • A severely disabled child who is eligible for the middle or high rate care component of DLA care can be allocated their own bedroom in certain circumstances.
  • For an overnight carer who doesn't normally live in the property in certain circumstances.
  • For a foster carer - rules apply.

The reduction is:

  • 14% of the monthly eligible rent for one 'extra' bedroom, and
  • 25% reduction for two or more 'extra' bedrooms. 

Non-Dependant Deductions

A non-dependant deduction or 'Housing Costs Contribution' can be made from a claimant's Housing Costs Element if they have someone age 21 or over living with them who is not their partner or a lodger/boarder.

So where the non-dependant is under 21 no non-dependant deduction is made regardless of their circumstances.

NOTE: Non-dependant deductions work very differently under the UC rules to the HB rules.

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