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Sanctuary Scheme bedroom tax exemption in Wales (or anywhere not in England)

Vonny
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Welfare rights adviser - Social Inclusion Unit, Swansea

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I have just looked at the regulations - The Domestic Abuse Support (Relevant Accommodation and Housing Benefit and Universal Credit Sanctuary Schemes) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 and the definition of relevant accommodation applies to England only so how is it going to be applied to us here?

Elliot Kent
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The bedroom tax exemption is set out in Part 3 of the Regs and applies in full in England, Wales and Scotland - see reg 1(3).

Part 2 of the regulations doesn’t apply to Wales because it is concerned with defining “relevant accommodation” for the purposes of s.57 Domestic Abuse Act 2021 which only applies to English local authorities.

Vonny
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Welfare rights adviser - Social Inclusion Unit, Swansea

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Sorry Elliot I didn’t express my question properly.

For the rest of us we just have the definition of

“sanctuary scheme” means a scheme operated by a provider of social housing enabling victims of domestic violence to remain in their homes through the installation of additional security to the property or the perimeter of the property at which the victim resides.”. 

This could be taken more narrowly as just meaning remain in their current home or wider as any social housing with additional security, but lacks the clarity of relevant accommodation, will it be applied as equivalent types of accommodation in Wales or will be exemption be harder (especially through UC) to get applied here.  The regulations could have been written in a clearer way, but then that’s nothing new.

HB Anorak
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The concept of “relevant accommodation” is not directly relevant to HB or UC anywhere in Great Britain: the amendments to the benefit regulations do not reference that term and the test for bedroom tax exemption under Regs 3 and 4 is the same in all three countries.  Entirely separately from that, Reg 2 is concerned with providing support services in refuges and similar establishments.

Another way of looking at it: a sanctuary scheme is provided in the home where you normally live and it exempts you from the bedroom tax; s57 support services are provided in “relevant accommodation” in England that you flee to from your normal home.  I assume (without checking, but I think I’m right) that regulation of support in DV establishments is devolved to the Scottish and Welsh governments, hence why Reg 2 only applies in England.

Vonny
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Welfare rights adviser - Social Inclusion Unit, Swansea

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Thanks HB, just had another look and it is obvious - duh

Vonny
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Welfare rights adviser - Social Inclusion Unit, Swansea

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Our HB has had a response back from the DWP on who this could apply to:

I have had a reply from DWP in respect of claimants who change address.  This is the reply:-

• If a claimant moves into a new property and at the same time additional security is installed to that new property under a sanctuary scheme to allow that claimant to remain in that ‘new’ home –does the exemption apply?
o The exemption would apply if a member of the household is a victim of domestic abuse and the perpetrator is not resident and the claimant provides the evidence from a person acting in an official capacity, including that the property has been adapted under a sanctuary scheme.
• If a claimant moves into a new property that already has additional security installed under a sanctuary scheme (maybe for the previous occupier) does the exemption apply?
o The intention of the exemption is to support the victim of domestic abuse, not the property. The property having been adapted under a sanctuary scheme does not, in itself, meet the criteria for the exemption. However, the exemption would apply if a member of the household is a victim of domestic abuse and the perpetrator is not resident and the claimant provides the evidence from a person acting in an official capacity, including that the property has been adapted under a sanctuary scheme.

It may therefore be possible for the exemption to apply provided the property that the claimant moves to has had additional security installed under a sanctuary scheme and they meet all the other criteria.