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'Bedroom Tax' information

The Government has reduced the amount of Housing Benefit some people get. Since April 2013, if you have more bedrooms than the Government says you need, you may get less Housing Benefit than you did before. This is sometimes called the 'bedroom tax' or the 'under occupation penalty'.

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Does this affect me?

The ‘bedroom tax’ may affect anyone who lives in a council or housing association home and is 16 to 65 years old.

The changes don't affect you if:

  • you live in a one bedroom flat or bedsit
  • you or your partner are old enough to get pension credits.

In November 2013 this was 61 years 9 months but will gradually increase to 66 years old for new claimants over the next two years. To check when you will be able to claim pension credits, please use the State Pension calculator

What is a 'spare' bedroom?

A ‘spare’ bedroom is where you have more bedrooms than the Government says you need. You can have one bedroom for each of the following:

  • an adult couple
  • any other person aged 16 or over
  • 2 children of the same sex under 16
  • 2 children under 10 regardless of their sex
  • any other child under 16
  • one disabled child
  • a carer who does not normally live with you but who occasionally stays overnight.

If you have more bedrooms than this, they will be counted as 'spare' bedrooms, even if:

  • you and your partner need to sleep in separate bedrooms because of a disability or medical condition.
  • your children's main home is not your home and you need a spare room for when they stay with you.

If you're not sure how many bedrooms the Government says you need, you can use this Bedroom Calculator to find out.

What happens if you have a 'spare' bedroom?

  • If you have one ‘spare’ bedroom, your Housing Benefit will be cut by 14% of the weekly rent you pay. (For example, if your rent is £70 per week, your Housing Benefit will be cut by £9.80 per week.)
  • If you have two or more ‘spare’ bedrooms, your Housing Benefit will be cut by 25% of the weekly rent you pay. (For example, if your rent is £100 per week, your benefit will be cut by £25 per week.)

In all cases, if your benefit is cut, you will have to pay your landlord the difference between your Housing Benefit and your rent.

If your Housing Benefit is only part of your rent, you may lose all of your Housing Benefit. For example, if you have 2 'spare' bedrooms, your rent is £100 per week and you currently get £20 in Housing Benefit, your benefit will be cut by £25. This is more than the benefit you get (£20), so you won't get any more Housing Benefit.

What should you do?

If you're worried about not being able to pay your rent, you should ask for advice now.

You may be able to get financial support by applying for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) from your local council. The funding is limited, so it is important that you apply as soon as possible. Please read our Discretionary Housing Payment information and advice on applying.