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Spare Room Subsidy And Under-occupancy

You may receive less housing benefit if you are of working age and live in a housing association or council property that has one or more spare bedrooms. This is known as social sector size criteria or bedroom tax.

The rules restrict the size of accommodation you can receive housing benefit for based on the number of people in your household.

The rules allow one bedroom for:

  • Every adult couple (married or unmarried)
  • Any other adult aged 16 or over
  • Any two children of the same sex aged under 16
  • Any two children aged under 10
  • Any other child
  • One or more foster children (note that only one bedroom is allowed, irrespective of the number of foster children in the household
  • An adult child in the armed forces, who will be deemed to be living at home while they are away on operations, so the room will not be considered to be spare. When the child is at home and not deployed, non-dependent deductions will apply
  • Severely disabled children who would seriously disrupt the sleep of another child at night if they were to share a bedroom
  • A carer (or team of carers) who do not live with you but provide you or your partner with overnight care
  • From April 2017 a disabled child or disabled non-dependant adult who require a non-resident overnight carer
  • From April 2017 a couple who are unable to share a bedroom due to a disability

If you are assessed under these rules as having more bedrooms than is necessary for your household you will be considered to be under-occupying that property.

If you are under-occupying there will be a reduction in your housing benefit of:

  • 14% of the rent charge for under-occupying by one bedroom
  • 25% of the rent charge for under-occupying by two bedrooms or more

Use the citizens advice bedroom calculator to see if you will be affected. Please note: this calculator is for guidance purposes only.

You may be able to get a discretionary housing payment to make up all or some of the reduction.

Social size criteria doesn't apply if you live in:

  • Private rented housing
  • non-mainstream accommodation such as houseboats and caravans
  • certain types of temporary and support accommodation
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