PO Box 10, Oxford, OX1 1EN
Tel 01865 249811
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The information below sets out the housing benefit rules for single people aged 25-34 who rent privately.
Q. I am a lone parent who is under 35. Will I be limited to the shared accommodation rate?
A. No. These changes do not apply to lone parents, or to couples. They only apply to single claimants who live alone in private rented accommodation and who are under 35.
Q. I am a council or housing association tenant. Will I have to move to shared accommodation?
A. No. These changes only apply to accommodation rented from a private landlord. They do not apply to tenants of registered social landlords i.e. housing associations or Oxford City Council.
Q. I am a joint tenant in a shared house. Will this change affect me?
A. No. If you are a joint tenant in a shared house living with non family members, you will probably already getting housing benefit at the shared accommodation rate. If so, you will not be affected by this change.
Q. I have been getting housing benefit at this address since before 7 April 2008. I have been told that my benefit will not be affected by the change. Is this right?
A. If you claimed housing benefit before 7 April 2008, and you have not moved or had a break in your claim since that date, you will not be affected.
Q. I was living in a one bedroom flat with my partner. We have split up and my partner left the property. Will I be affected by the change, and when will I be affected?
A. If you do not have children and your partner has moved out, you will move onto the shared accommodation rate from the Monday after your partner leaves the property.
Q. I have health problems which mean that it is not practical for me to move to shared accommodation. Will this change apply to me?
A. It depends what benefits you are getting. Unless you get Attendance Allowance, the care component of Disability Living Allowance at the middle or high rate, or the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment, you will not be exempt from these changes, and will be moved on to the shared accommodation rate.
We have no discretion to exempt people not getting these benefits on health grounds.
Q. I used to be in prison. I have heard that all former prisoners can get an exemption from this change. Is this correct?
A. No. The exemption only applies to some former prisoners who are subject to a Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangement (MAPPA), which brings together the police, probation and prison services to manage ex-offenders posing a serious risk of harm to the public. Former prisoners subject to a MAPPA Level 2 and MAPPA Level 3 will be eligible for the exemption.
The MAPPA exemption may only last for a fixed period, and may not last until your 35th birthday. Your probation officer will know if you are subject to a MAPPA agreement.
Q. Over ten years ago I spent three months in a specialist homeless hostel, which gave me support to move into independent accommodation. Will this change apply to me?
A. No. The change will not apply to you. It does not matter how long ago you stayed in a specialist homeless hostel, as long as that stay was for three months or more and you were supported into your own independent accommodation.
Q. Several years ago I was made homeless, and was placed directly in self contained accommodation with floating support. I did not stay in a hostel with shared accommodation. Will this change apply to me?
A. Yes. You are not exempt from the change if you have been homeless unless you stayed in a specialist homeless hostel. The hostel must have provided non self contained accommodation, and board or shared kitchen facilities. If you moved straight to a self contained property, with or without support, you will only get the shared accommodation rate.
Q. A few years ago I stayed in a private hostel which supported me to move into my own home. Will I still get the one bedroom rate of local housing allowance?
A. No. If you have spent time in a hostel, you will not be exempt from the shared accommodation rate unless the hostel was managed or owned by a registered housing association or charity, or it operated on a non commercial basis and was funded by national or local government. If you stayed in a private hostel which was run for profit, then you will not be exempt from this change.
Q. Five years ago I spent two months in a specialist homeless hostel, and got support to move into my own home. Following a relationship breakdown last year, I found myself back in a different homeless hostel for another two months. Am I still eligible for the exemption?
A. Yes. You are eligible for the exemption. It does not matter that the three month period was spent in more than one hostel, that the three months were not continuous, or that there was a big gap between your stay in each hostel. As long as the combined stay in specialist homeless hostels is at least three months, you will not be affected by this change.
Q. I was in a homeless hostel for over three months, and got support from the hostel to move into my own accommodation. Will the council automatically award me the exemption?
A. No. You need to tell us that you have spent at least three months in a homeless hostel or hostels. We also need evidence which confirms the period of stay (or stays) and that you were offered and accepted support to resettle in the community. A letter from the hostel will normally be good enough, but we can give you a form for your former hostel to fill out. If you would like this, please call us on 01865 249811.
Q. I have previously spent time in a hostel for drug treatment. Do I qualify for the exemption?
A. Maybe. As long as the hostel provided services to resettle homeless people in the community, and you accepted the hostel’s support to do this, you should qualify for exemption from the shared accommodation rate.
Q. I was homeless because of domestic violence and spent three months in a refuge. Am I exempt from the shared accommodation rate?
A. Maybe. If the refuge provided services to resettle homeless people in the community and you accepted the refuge’s support to do this, you should qualify for exemption from the shared accommodation rate.
Q. My rent is likely to be more than the housing benefit I will get when the change affects me. What should I do?
Oxford is one of the most expensive places for housing outside London. You may have to look for housing outside the city.
The cost of renting is cheaper in towns like Abingdon, Carterton, Didcot, Wallingford, Wantage and Witney, which pay local housing allowance at the same rate as Oxford. Housing also costs less in other parts of the county, like Banbury, Bicester, Chipping Norton or Kidlington.
If you can move outside Oxfordshire, the cost of renting will be even cheaper. We can advise you about local housing allowance rates for other areas.
Shelter may also be able to give you advice about finding accommodation.
Page last updated 25 April 2013