If your home has a spare bedroom, you may have to pay the under-occupancy charge, which is known as the bedroom tax.
The bedroom tax only applies to certain households. You may be exempt if:
- you're in a couple and you've both reached pension age
- you have a child who needs their own bedroom because of a disability - though not all disabilities are covered
- someone in your household requires an overnight carer
- you and your partner each need your own room due to a disability - though again, not all disabilities are covered.
The Disability Rights website has useful information which explains how to check if you might be exempt from the bedroom tax.
Discretionary Housing Payments
Local councils can consider awarding Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) to top up existing awards of Housing Benefit, Universal Credit Housing Costs and also Council Tax Support for those experiencing financial difficulties who may be struggling to keep up with their rent, council tax or other essential living costs.
To be able to apply you’ll need to already be receiving some Housing Benefit, Universal Credit Housing Costs or Council Tax Support. They are usually paid to top up your existing award but can also be considered for one-off payments towards rent arrears, deposits when moving to a new home, or rent in advance. Discretionary Housing Payments, as the name suggests, are paid at the discretion of the local council. They are only awarded for a limited period and are only intended to be a temporary solution to tide you over until your financial situation improves.