Changes for Social Housing Tenants (Bedroom Tax)

If you are of working age and rent your home from a housing association, your Housing Benefit will be reduced if you have more bedrooms than the rules say your household needs. You may have heard this referred to as the 'Bedroom Tax'.

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 foster child or child whose main home is elsewhere)
  • a carer who does not normally live with you but provide you or your partner with overnight care.

How many rooms am I entitled to?

To work out how many bedrooms you are entitled please visit the bedroom calculator.

When bedroom tax doesn't apply: special cases

You can claim housing benefit for a spare bedroom if:

  • you're disabled and have an overnight carer who normally lives elsewhere (only 1 spare bedroom is allowed)
  • you have a disabled child under 16 who can't share a room - there are qualifying conditions in that you must receive middle or high rate of Disability Living Allowance or equivalent Personal Independence Payment and the child reasonably requires their own bedroom.
  • you're a foster carer who's been approved by social services and is between placements or newly approved (for up to 52 weeks)
  • you have a child away in the armed or reserve forces (if they plan to return to live with you)
  • If you are a couple, but because of medical reasons find it difficult to share a bedroom.

In each of the above scenarios, we can grant an extra bedroom which may make a difference to the calculation of your Housing Benefit. Where circumstances are not met you may alternatively request a Discretionary Housing Payment (see below for details) to limit any hardship felt.

What can I do now?

If you are worried about paying your rent following a bedroom tax reduction in your benefit you should seek advice now. If you don't pay your rent you could lose your home.

You could

  • Pay the shortfall - You may feel you can afford to pay the shortfall in your Housing Benefit award out of the other income you receive.
  • Talk to your landlord about moving to a smaller home; often referred to as downsizing or a transfer.
  • Go to Exchange Locata where you can register your details and search for properties that are more suitable for your needs so you can swap properties with someone else. Our Home Options Team that could assist you in locating a smaller property, Call them on 01629 761 117.
  • You can get in touch with your local Citizens Advice Bureau or other local advice agencies.
  • Apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment - If you receive Housing Benefit and still find it difficult to pay the remaining rent due you could apply for Discretionary Housing Payment. This should only be seen as a temporary solution to help you cover a short period until your circumstances change.

Discretionary Housing Payment

A Discretionary Housing Payment (or DHP) may be payable to you to top up your Housing Benefit to make up all or some of the reduction. This is if you do not have enough income to pay your rent and have a compelling case for remaining in your current home.

Normally a DHP award is made for the year April to April or part year and is largely funded by the Department for Work & Pensions. The fund is cash limited and has seen year on year reductions in the amount of money made available to the Council. 

Someone in receipt of either Housing Benefit or Universal Credit may make an application. 

Normally a written request will be necessary giving full information about your circumstances and why you think you are eligible to the additional support. Please contact the Benefits Section for advice.