It has been publicised recently that customers of working age, who have rentsustainablehad tenancies with housing associations since before
1st January 1996, should not have had their Housing Benefit (HB) reduced as a result of the Under Occupation (the Bedroom Tax).

There are certain details which must be met to become exempt:

Do you have to have been getting full HB since 1st January 1996?

No – partial HB is OK.

Does this exclusion apply where someone has moved house?

No – not unless this is due to a fire, flood, explosion, or a natural catastrophe that meant their previous property was uninhabitable.

Do you need to request this exclusion before the rules are changed?

We are working hard to try and recoup these claims automatically for customers. However, if you feel you’re eligible at any point, contact your local HB department.  Even after the rules are changed, you can still request a review of you HB for the period between 1st April 2013 and the date the rules change.

We have a situation where a son took over his mother’s tenancy. Between them, they have been on HB continuously since 1st January 1996 – would the exclusion apply to him?

If he took over following her death then, yes, the exclusion will apply as long as, between them, they have been on HB continuously (4-week gaps excluded) for the same address since 1st January 1996.

The ‘inherited protection’ rules say that the ‘exclusion’ can be passed from one HB claimant to another in the following circumstances:

Death – If the beneficiary (i.e. the person entitled to the ‘protection’) dies, the ‘protection’ can be passed onto: their partner; dependent child; son; daughter; parent; son-in-law; daughter-in-law; parent-in-law; step-son; step-daughter; step-parent; brother; sister; grandparent; grandchild; uncle; aunt; nephew; or niece, as long as this person was living in the property on the date the beneficiary died. This exclusion will apply where, between the beneficiary and the new claimant, they have had a continuous claim for HB since 1st January 1996 (4-week gaps ecluded)  for the same property.

Separation – If the beneficiary leaves the property, the ‘protection’ can be passed onto their partner, as long as they were living in the property on the date the beneficiary left and, between them, they have a continuous claim for HB since 1st January 1996 (4-week gaps excluded) for the same property.

Imprisonment – If the beneficiary leaves the property due to imprisonment (remand or sentence), the ‘protection’ can be passed onto their partner, as long as the partner was living in the property on the date the beneficiary left and, between them, they have a continuous claim for HB since 1st January 1996 (4-week gaps excluded) for the same property.

We are working closely with all local authorities to resolve this in the quickest and smoothest way possible. Our aim is to have all claims falling under this to be paid automatically.  However, if you feel you are exempt and have not received any communication, please contact your local authority’s Housing Benefit department to discuss this further.

If you would like any further help, advice or support around this, or any other money matters, please contact our Money Wise team by emailing moneywise@calico.org.uk or calling 01282 686300.

IMPORTANT: The DWP have stated that they intend to amend the ‘Bedroom Tax’ regulations from sometime in March to correct this drafting error, so those tenants excluded under this new found rule will once again be affected and will have a shortfall to pay.  Please contact your local HB department towards the end of March/start of April for details of your entitlement.