Social housing changes

If you are a social housing tenant, under the qualifying age for state pension credit and have a spare bedroom your housing benefit will be reduced by:

  • 14% for a home with one spare bedroom
  • 25% for a home with two or more spare bedrooms

Government meaning of a spare bedroom

It means a bedroom which is not currently occupied by any of the following:

  • An adult couple (married or unmarried)
  • Any person over the age of 16
  • Two children of the same sex under the age of 16
  • Two children regardless of sex under the age of 10
  • Any other child
  • A non-resident overnight carer
  • A severely disabled child who cannot share a room with another child
  • An adult couple who are unable to share a room because of a disability

In addition:

  • a room will be allowed for a foster child or children living with an approved foster carer
  • parents of armed forces personnel who are away from home on operations will continue to have them included when applying the size criteria

What you use your spare room for is irrelevant. If it is decided that you have more bedrooms than the rules say you need, you will lose part of your housing benefit and must make up the shortfall in rent.

How will this affect me?

It is possible that the amount of housing benefit you get to pay your rent could go down. 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 housing benefit of:

  • 14% if you have one spare bedroom
  • 25% if you have two or more spare bedrooms

Example A

Mr and Mrs Jones live in a two-bedroom flat costing £70 per week in rent and they receive maximum housing benefit of £70 per week. From April 2013 the amount of eligible rent used in the calculation would be reduced by 14% or £9.80 because their second bedroom is regarded as a spare room under the new rules so the maximum housing benefit that they can receive is £60.

Where to go for more information

Contact details

Benefits Team

If you have an enquiry about benefits, send a message to the Benefits Team

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