The government’s advice is for those who have contracted the Coronavirus not to sleep in the same bed as anyone else and to distance themselves from other household members for 7 days.
They are also recommending that people with certain illnesses might need to to sleep in a separate bedroom. (This was part of the ‘shielding’ advice ‘ – shielding has been paused since August 1st but might return.)
But there has been no change to the Bedroom Tax rules to make any exceptions due to the Coronavirus outbreak.
So where someone who is self-isolating or shielding themselves due to the Coronavirus and so is sleeping in a ‘spare room’ any under-occupancy change ie reduction due to the Bedroom Tax, will continue to be made.
The only situations where a HB Office may be persuaded to lift an underoccupancy charge is where:
A disabled child – who is in receipt of mid or high rate care component of DLA – is having to sleep in a separate bedroom (see below).
One member of a couple – who is in receipt of DLA or PIP – is having to sleep in a separate bedroom (see below).
Can an extra bedroom be given due to disability needs of a child?
Since 4th December 2013 the Housing Benefit Regulations have allowed a disabled child, who receives Disability Living Allowance care component at the middle or high rate, and who would otherwise be expected to share a bedroom but due to their disability is not reasonably able to do so, to be allocated a bedroom to themselves.
Where that child is normally able to share a bedroom but has been medically advised to sleep in a separate bedroom then the HB Office may decide that this fits the criteria for that child to be allocated their own bedroom while this situation continues.
The HB Office will want evidence of the DLA award and generally a letter from a doctor or specialist stating that due to their disability and the current situation the child requires their own bedroom.
Even where this is the case, it might not necessarily mean that the family will be allocated an extra bedroom – for example take a family with three daughters all under 16 one of whom is disabled: they would be deemed to need a three bedroom house whether or not you take account of the disabled daughter.
So whether an extra bedroom is needed will depend on the make up of the family.
Bedroom each for couples who cannot sleep in same room due to disability
Generally a couple – whether the tenant and their partner or a non-dependant couple, will be expected to only need one bedroom. However, there are exceptions to this as outlined below.
The Size Criteria rules changed from 1st April 2017 and HB Regulations now allow a couple a bedroom each where:
- The HB Office is happy that it is unreasonable for one member of a couple to share a bedroom with their partner because of either partner’s disabilities^ (this could be the claimant and their partner, or it could be a non-dependant couple etc living in the property), and
- The disabled member of the couple is in receipt of:
- Middle or high rate care component of Disability Living Allowance, or
- A daily living component Personal Independence Payment, or
- Attendance Allowance at the higher rate~, or
- Armed Forces Independence Payment.
So where one member of a couple, who is normally able to share a bedroom, but has been medically advised to sleep in a separate bedroom – then the HB Office may decide that this fits the criteria for that couple to be allocated a bedroom each while this continues.
Frequently Asked Questions
I claim Income Related ESA, Child Tax Credit and Housing Benefit. My two sons are 12 and 9. We live in a 3 bedroom house and my HB is reduced due to the bedroom tax. My sons have always had their own bedrooms, but I am just wondering if the bedroom tax could be lifted during the Coronavirus outbreak. My younger son has asthma, so he needs to keep his distance from the rest of the family for safety reasons. He does not get DLA or PIP.
There have been no changes to the Bedroom Tax rules in connection with the Coronavirus pandemic. If you are struggling financially you could contact your Local Authority to see if they could award a Discretionary Housing Payment. There are no guarantees on this – it will depend on the circumstances.