Wiltshire Council understands that some children with disabilities cannot share a bedroom with another child either because their behaviours at night mean that the other child’s sleep will be disrupted or there will be a risk of harm to the other child. In these circumstances, the council can help families affected by these problems to move to larger homes.
An element of all housing needs assessments is determining how many bedrooms a household requires. In its Allocation Policy, the council’s ‘bedroom matrix’ reflects the size criteria set out in the Housing Benefit and Universal Credit Regulations issued by the Department of Work and Pensions, determining how the Housing Benefit and housing costs element of Universal Credit are calculated, as below.
Para 7.2, Wiltshire Council’s Allocation Policy, 2018
The bedroom matrix reflects the Housing Benefit and Universal Credit Regulations because homes have to be affordable for their tenants and the council and each of its partner social landlords do not wish to grant tenancies of homes which will not be affordable for their tenants, whether, at the point that the tenancy is granted, the tenants need help to meet their housing costs or not. No landlord wishes to create a situation whereby, if a tenant needs help to meet her or his housing costs, the help available will not cover the rent, causing the tenant hardship in fulfilling their rent obligations alongside their other essential living costs. Whilst Discretionary Housing Payments can be awarded temporarily to Housing Benefit and Universal Credit claimants to overcome hardship, it is not available long term.
The Housing Benefit and Universal Credit Regulations state that normally a child of one gender aged under 10 years can share a bedroom with a child of another gender until the elder reaches 10 years of age, and that two children of the same gender can share a bedroom until the elder reaches 16 years of age. The exception is where a child is disabled, and the regulations issued by the Department of Work and Pensions allow an additional bedroom for a disabled child where there is evidence of the disability and evidence of an award of the middle or high care component of Disability Living Allowance for the child to her or his parent/s.
To assess the need for an additional bedroom, we need evidence of (1) and (2) below.
(1) Evidence of the disability
Evidence of a condition where there is either a threat of physical harm to either child if two children have to share a bedroom and/or frequent and significant disruption of sleep of the non-disabled child from a relevant learning disability or medical professional eg
A letter or a written assessment from the professional is not necessary. The name and contact details for the professional concerned, and confirmation that consent has been given by the parents of the child for the sharing of information are sufficient.
(2) Evidence of entitlement to Disability Living Allowance middle or higher rate care component
If the parents live in the Wiltshire Council area and claim Council Tax Reduction, the Homes4Wiltshire team can confirm this with the Revenues and Benefits Service. Where there is no claim for Council Tax Reduction, a copy of the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) award letter will be needed from the parents.
Please note that parents who are homeowners are unlikely to be entitled to join the Housing Register, unless the home has become permanently unaffordable for them. However, we can give you advice about low cost home ownership options to help obtain the larger home sought to accommodate the needs of a disabled child.