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Plan to cut ‘bedroom tax’ death exemption period under Universal Credit

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Plan to cut ‘bedroom tax’ death exemption period under Universal Credit


Published by 24publishing for in Housing and also in Central Government, Communities, Local Government, Universal Credit

Plan to cut ‘bedroom tax’ death exemption period under Universal Credit Plan to cut ‘bedroom tax’ death exemption period under Universal Credit

Government plans to cut the time allowed after a death before a tenant becomes eligible for so-called ‘bedroom tax’ penalties is “harsh and unnecessary”, according to the National Housing Federation (NHF).

From next April, social tenants living in homes with ‘spare’ bedrooms will see cuts to their housing benefit averaging £14 a week. The measure is expected to hit some 660,000 tenants.

From that date tenants will retain a 52-week 'protection' period from any cuts should they experience a bereavement. However, six months after – when Universal Credit kicks in – benefits, including the housing cost element, will run on for just three months.

The NHF said the reduction in time allowed after a death is "harsh and unnecessary and that the protections that are in the scheme that comes in April 2013 should be transferred over to Universal Credit”.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said the different rules governing bereavement in the current benefits system "need to be standardised" for Universal Credit.

A spokesperson said: "The new rules proposed under the draft Universal Credit regulations mean that the whole of the claimant's benefit, including the housing costs element, will be protected for three months in the case of bereavement.

"In many cases this will be a much more generous arrangement as, under the current system, income-related benefits do not continue in the event of the death of a partner."

The Federation also wants the Government to stick to its commitment to “exempt all pensioners” from the size criteria by continuing to exempt people over the state pension credit age who live with a younger partner.

Those over state pension credit age will not be affected by the size criteria but Universal Credit rules mean that where one member of a couple is under pension credit age then the couple must claim Universal Credit until the younger person reaches pension credit age. Couples already in receipt of pension credit will be protected.

The DWP spokesperson said: "It is right that working age claimants are subject to the same housing rules, whether or not their partner is over pension age. This will help ensure that all those of working age maintain a focus on work.

"In the small number of cases where one person in a couple is over pension age, the under-occupancy rule will therefore still apply. However, the partner above pension age will not be subject to the same working age conditionality."

The details are contained in the draft Universal Credit regulations which the Social Security Advisory Committee is consulting on. Its call for evidence closes on Friday.


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