Bedroom tax has been in the media a lot recently but many people aren’t too sure about what it is and whether it will affect them.

Bedroom tax has come about as part of a recent welfare reform. It is designed to cut the amount of benefit people can receive if they have a spare bedroom.

From April 2013 tenants of working age who live in a council or housing association home and are deemed as having a spare bedroom, will have their housing benefit cut.

It is within the Welfare Reform Act 2012 that this benefit cut is covered and, along with bedroom tax is also known as size criteria or under-occupation penalty.

What do the changes mean?

Housing benefit will be restricted, because of the size criteria, for those in socially rented housing, to allow for one person or couple living as part of the household. There are exceptions to this rule though; children of the same gender under 16 are entitled to only one bedroom between them, children under 10 of either gender are entitled to only one bedroom between them and any disabled tenant who requires a non resident overnight carer will be entitled to an extra bedroom.

Who will be affected?

Anyone who is renting in the social housing sector, who receives housing benefit and is classed as having a spare bedroom, will be affected. Included in the bedroom tax benefits cut will be families with disabled children, those who use spare rooms for foster children, couples who use spare bedrooms when recovering from an illness or operation, separated parents who still live in the same property and disabled people.

How much will people lose?

The housing benefit for those affected by the bedroom tax will be cut at 14% for those with one extra bedroom and 25% for those with two or more spare rooms.

It is estimated that over 650,000 housing benefit claimants will be affected by the new rules surrounding spare bedrooms.

What is defined as a bedroom?

The government has stated that it is up to the landlords of a property to define whether a room is classed as a bedroom or not. Whether you are taxed for an extra bedroom therefore, depends upon what is written into any tenancy agreement. A bedroom being single or double has no affect on bedroom tax.