Borough Council of Wellingborough

Under occupation in social housing (The bedroom tax)

Changes to Housing benefit from 1 April 2013

From 1 April 2013 the Government is introducing size limit rules into Housing Benefit for working age people renting from a local authority, a registered housing association or other registered social landlord.

This change does not affect pensioners or if you are renting from a private landlord.

Those renting privately already have similar rules built into the Local Housing Allowance scheme 

What are the changes?

The new rules will restrict the size of accommodation you can receive Housing Benefit for based on the number of people in your household.

The new 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 (other than a child whose main home is elsewhere)
  • a carer (or team of carers) who do not live with you but provide you or your partner with overnight care
  • parents of armed forces personnel who continue to live at home but who are deployed will be allowed to retain that adult child's bedroom
  • one additional room will be allowed for foster children

How could you be affected?

It is possible that the amount of Housing benefit you get to pay your rent and any service charges could go down.

If you are assessed under these rules as having more bedrooms than are 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. The amount allowed for rent and any service charges will be reduced by:

  • 14% for under-occupancy by 1 bedroom
  • 25% for under-occupancy by 2 bedrooms or more

If you are thinking of moving you need to consider these changes before renewing or making a new tenancy agreement.

You may be able to get a Discretionary Housing Payment to make up all or some of the reduction - ask the Housing Benefit office about this.

Where to go for more information

Local authority Housing Benefit/Housing Service. Your local authority can help you to find out exactly how these changes will affect you.

The Citizens Advice service provides a wide range of advice. To find your local Citizens Advice Bureau, look in the phone book or Yellow Pages, or visit the Citizens Advice website .

Shelter offers confidential housing, welfare benefits and debt advice through a network of advice services; freephone Housing Advice Helpline on 0808 800 4444 8am-8pm Monday-Friday and 8am-5pm Saturday-Sunday and online at the Shelter website.

There is further information about Housing benefit on the GOV.UK website.