There is a standard template letter doing the rounds which I have reproduced below which says if you have been in receipt of HB continuously from 1 January 1996 or earlier you are exempt from the bedroom tax as the way “eligible rent” is determined is protected.
The letter explains all and needs to be put into appeals to be decided upon:
REVISION REQUEST SIZE CRITERIA – ON-GOING HB CLAIM SINCE 1ST JAN 1996
Housing Benefit Office
Re: Request for revision to apply social sector size criteria (Bedroom Tax)
HB Claim ref:
I would be grateful if you could reassess the above tenant’s entitlement to Housing Benefit from 4th April 2013 to remove the reduction in their entitlement due to their award being assessed under the social sector size criteria.
I believe that you have not used the correct Housing Benefit Regulations when assessing their eligible rent and that as this is an official error there is no time limit for you to revise your decision, and that anyone can point out this error to you.
I believe that because this tenant (or they and their partner/ former partner /child / non-dependant who has: died, or left the property, or served a prison sentence) has been on Housing Benefit continuously since 1st January 1996 (with certain gaps allowed) their eligible rent should be assessed in accordance with paragraph 4 of Schedule 3 to the Consequential Provisions Regulations 1996. This is because Housing Benefit Regulation 2 defines ‘eligible rent’ as follows:
“eligible rent” means, as the case may require, an eligible rent determined in accordance with–
(a) regulations 12B (eligible rent), 12BA (eligible rent and maximum rent(social sector), 12C (eligible rent and maximum rent) or 12D (eligible rent and maximum rent (LHA)); or
(b) regulations 12 (rent) and 13 (restrictions on unreasonable payments) as set out in paragraph 5 of Schedule 3 to the Consequential Provisions Regulations in a case to which paragraph 4 of that Schedule applies;
I believe that, because the tenant meets the conditions, the correct Regulation to be applied when assessing their eligible rent is paragraph (b) ie regulations 12 (rent) and 13 (restrictions on unreasonable payments) as set out in paragraph 5 of Schedule 3 to the Consequential Provisions Regulations in a case to which paragraph 4 of that Schedule applies.
The Consequential Provisions Regulations afford protection from any new eligible rent provision introduced since 1st January 1996 to claimants living in ‘exempt accommodation’ but also to claimants who have had a continuous entitlement to Housing Benefit since 1st January 1996 (with certain gaps allowed).
I believe that this tenant is entitled to this protection and is therefore excluded from the social sector size criteria.