In light of the announcement on ‘bedroom tax’ Contact a Family’s benefits adviser Derek Sinclair has some important advice for families. If your child’s condition prevents them sharing a bedroom with a sibling, make sure that you contact your local housing benefit office to explain this.
New government guidance (circular HB/CTB U2/2013) says your housing benefit award must allow for a disabled child to have their own room if their condition means they cannot share. You may be asked to provide medical evidence to confirm this. If they don’t accept that your child can’t share, seek advice about reviewing or appealing that decision.
These new rules apply to the private sector immediately and to social housing once the bedroom tax is introduced in April. Unfortunately the new guidance won’t help where a disabled child needs an extra room for other reasons for example to store disability equipment or for an overnight carer.
It may be that families in these circumstances could challenge the housing benefit rules on the basis they discriminate against disabled people. Contact a Family is seeking clarification on this point. In the meantime consider applying to your local authority for discretionary housing payments.
Whilst the new rules are great news for those families with a disabled child who is unable to share a bedroom, Contact a Family will continue to campaign for all carers and disabled people to be exempt from the bedroom tax.
For further advice about these issues please contact their freephone helpline on 0808 808 3555 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact a Family have also produced a new guide for parents on all benefits changes. Called Personal Independence Payment, Universal Credit and other forthcoming benefit changes, parents with a disabled child can get a free copy by calling their freephone helpline on 0808 808 3555.