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Bedroom tax know the facts This leaflet will help those who are affected by the new under-occupation ‘bedroom tax’ rules. Act now. Don’t be stung by the benefit bee. To find out more, contact us. Call 01684 272727 or email info@svhs.org.uk


Advice and guidance for those who are affected by the welfare reform bedroom tax. If you are of working age and affected by the changes, don’t worry SVHS can help you understand your options. You will not be forced to move house, but you should consider all options to ensure you don’t get into debt. As your household circumstances change ensure you understand how the changes may affect you.

Increase your income If you decide to stay in your current home and pay the difference, the following advice may help you to increase your household income: • Try and find work - if you do find work you’ll increase your income, be able to stay, and may also be entitled to working tax credit. • Increase your hours at work - if you’re already in employment talk to your employer about additional hours. • Ensure you are receiving all the benefits you’re entitled to - use the benefit calculator tool at: www.turn2us.org.uk

Reduce your outgoings If you decide to stay in your current home, you may need to reduce your spending to ensure you don’t get into debt. • •

Budget carefully - plan ahead to help reduce the risk of getting into debt. Visit your local Citizens Advice Bureau for further guidance. Debt advice - if you are already struggling to pay your bills and worried how you’ll cope with the additional benefit cuts, it’s important to seek debt advice. Speak to the SVHS Income Management Team on 01684 272727 and/or Citizens Advice Bureau.


Don’t be stung by the benefit bee! Transfer to a smaller property If you’re happy to downsize, contact SVHS Lettings Team who will help you understand your options: • Mutual exchange - register for free on www.homeswapper.co.uk and search for a property online. • Move to another property - register and search for a property on: www.homeseeker.co.uk Did you know you can access Homeseeker through Sky, Virgin or a Nintendo Wii? • Apply for a transfer through Severn Vale Housing’s transfer list - contact the SVHS Lettings Team on 01684 272727.

Additional household members You may wish to consider taking in additional members to help with your reduced housing benefit payments. • Take in a lodger - please note it’s your responsibility to obtain safety checks of additional household members, and for their behaviour whilst they are living with you. You must also ensure you gain the permission of SVHS before a lodger moves in.

What happens if you struggle to pay once the changes come in? Contact the SVHS Income Management Team on 01684 272727 who will help you to understand your situation, what you can do and make sure you get all the help available. You may qualify for an extra bedroom if you require an overnight carer, or if you have two children who need separate bedrooms due to a disability. Contact your local authority to establish whether this exemption applies to you. Councils have a limited amount of money available to make extra payments towards housing costs. This is called discretionary housing payment and each council has been given a small amount to help pay for this. Contact your local authority to find out more about short-term financial help.


Further benefit changes Over the next few years the Government will be making further changes to the benefit system. Check below to see whether these will affect you: Personal independence payment - April 2013 The disability living allowance (DLA) is being replaced by the personal independence payment (PIP). If you are currently claiming DLA you will be reassessed. Limits on benefit - Sept 2013 The amount of benefits you receive will be capped. For a family or lone parent this will be £26,000 a year or £500 a week, or for an individual £18,500 a year or £350 per week. If you’re affected, your Housing Benefit will go down to make sure that the total amount of benefit you get isn’t more than the cap level. Universal credit - Oct 2013 This will replace separate benefits payments which are currently paid weekly or fortnightly (including housing benefit) with one single monthly payment. Also from October 2013 new claimants will only be accepted online.

Contact us If you’re worried how these changes will affect you, or if you need any further advice contact us on 01684 272727, email info@svhs.org.uk or visit www.svhs.org.uk Our website offers guidance on these benefit changes and includes useful tools and information such as a benefit calculator.

Severn Vale Housing Society Limited Shannon Way, Ashchurch, Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire GL20 8ND t: 01684 272727 | f: 01684 272728 | e: info@svhs.org.uk | w: www.svhs.org.uk Office hours: Monday to Thursday 8.30am - 5.00pm | Friday 8.30am - 4.30pm Registered under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act, 1965. Registered Number: 28557R. Registered Office: As above. The Homes and Communities Agency Registration No.: L4171. Severn Vale Housing is the managing agent for Gloucestershire Rural Housing Association (GRHA).


Benefit bee - bedroom tax