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Forum Home  →  Discussion  →  Housing costs  →  Thread

Bedroom tax and special guardianship order

clive
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Newcastle Council Welfare Rights

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Hello
Single parent got Special Guardianship Order for looking after 3 yr old.  She has her own daughter (aged 6).  She advised to move into a 3 bed property so that the girl had her own separate bedroom. Thus the bedroom tax is now applied!  I initially thought about the extra bedroom allowed for fostering but children placed under SGO don’t appear to be included in that . In fact, the gov stated they were not included in the orig circular HB/CTB A10/2013

However, does anyone know if there is or has been a challenge to this?
Thank you

Rosie W
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Welfare rights service - Northumberland County Council

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Not that I’m aware of Clive. Is the child who is the subject of the SGO unable to share a bedroom? If so I think you’re stuck with a DHP. Who advised them to move to a 3 bed property? If it was Children’s Services maybe they could make up the shortfall if a DHP isn’t considered appropriate.

HB Anorak
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Benefits consultant/trainer - hbanorak.co.uk, East London

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Based on where you are (single tier metropolitan authority) the “joined up” thing for the council to do would be to allow a DHP since it was another arm of the same authority that advised the claimant to take on the extra bedroom.

The HB department might say that the claimant has a special guardianship allowance which is disregarded and can be used to cover the shortfall, but a counter-argument would be that she would have that anyway even if there were only two bedrooms or if the children were old enough to qualify for a bedroom each, so this is an extra cost not faced by other special guardians ... and it was faulty or incomplete advice from the Council itself that led to that extra cost.

You can see how the misunderstanding arose: with looked after children and similar, it is easy to get fixated on whether or not the child is included in the benefit “family”.  A special guardianship child is included in the family in the normal way, which probably led children’s services to assume that a bedroom would be allowed (as distinct from a fostered child for whom no personal bedroom is allowed and no allowance made in the means test) - forgetting or not realising that there is still a spare room even if the child is aggregated into the family in the normal way.

Rosie W
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Not sure Children’s Services would have considered benefit implications unless specifically asked to (speaking from experience).

clive
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Newcastle Council Welfare Rights

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thank you both

yes it appears to be Ch Services responsible for this situation and I have advised appropriate action on that as. I’ll check about the sharing but I’m thinking Ch Services said she had to have another bedroom for the girl so said she must move into a 3 bed property. The support worker is going for a DHP which we are hopeful for.

I am really hoping someone will be aware of a case - or whether a legal challenge can be made.  There must be lots of Special Guardianship Orders with this problem.

Elliot Kent
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Hi Clive, I think I have been contacted about this elsewhere and have responded to the support worker this morning.

The difference you have is that a foster child isn’t considered part of the household - so the basic calculation doesn’t provide a bedroom for them. There is just the blanket inclusion of one additional bedroom where the claimant is a foster parent. Where there is an SGO, the child is considered to be part of the household and features in the calculation normally.

You can create examples where this works out better or worse for foster parents. So if you have a couple who are fostering an 13 yo boy and 11 yo girl then they would only get the base room as a couple and an additional bedroom for being a foster parent. If they were in the same position but had an SGO for the kids then they would get one bedroom for the couple and one for each of the children because they can’t share.

In this case it has worked out the other way round because the kids are able to share - so mum would be better off being assessed as a foster carer and getting the default extra room rather than being assessed on the household makeup after the SGO.

I agree that there is a very clear case for a DHP here and would be pretty surprised if she doesn’t get one.

clive
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Newcastle Council Welfare Rights

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Thanks Elliot. Yes the very same. She’s in good hands