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Housing Benefits

Fostering income is disregarded for housing benefit purposes. Housing benefit is for rented accommodation (not available if the foster carer has a property that they own and rent out).

Foster carers are allowed one spare bedroom for the purpose of fostering in both the private and social sector housing. For foster carers living in the socialrented sector, the impact of the changes will be reduced and, in many caseswhere the only spare room is used for fostering there will be no reduction inhousing benefit at all.

Size criteria rules will, however, continue to apply across both the private andsocial rented sectors if foster carers have more than one spare room allocatedto foster children. In addition, prospective adopters or special guardians whohave a spare room available for a child that has not yet arrived may beimpacted by this measure until the child moves in. This will also apply to thosewho are expecting a baby and have a room ready for when the baby arrives.

Government have asked local authorities to treat people in these circumstances as apriority group when considering claims to the Discretionary Housing Paymentfund.

frequently asked questions issued by the Department for Work and Pensions.

The rules affect the calculation of Housing Benefit for social housing tenants in England, Wales and Scotland (similar rules in Northern Ireland depend on legislation currently under consideration).

Payments will be reduced by 14 per cent where a house is deemed to be “under-occupied” by one room and 24 per cent if under-occupied by two or more rooms.

Local authorities are allocated a budget for Discretionary Housing Payments which they can use to support households which are in difficulties in meeting their rent, but although these budgets have been significantly increased, demand is extremely high so foster carers need to apply for DHP as soon as their housing benefit is affected.

Children’s Minister Edward Timpson stated in a Parliamentary answer that:“The discretionary housing payment (DHP) fund, administered by local authorities, will be increased by £5 million a year from April 2013. This will enable authorities to compensate foster carers whose housing benefit is subject to a restriction as a result of the size criteria measure being introduced for working age claimants living in the social rented sector.

FosterTalk members can seek advice and guidance on this matter by contacting FosterTalk’s member helpline: 0844 800 3880 – option 0


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