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Picture of 2 tenants with a staff member from the money smart team reading a leaflet about bedroom tax

Housing benefit is paid based on your assessed housing need, NOT just how much your rent is.

You will have to contribute towards your rent if you are:

  • working age and
  • claiming housing benefit or universal credit and 
  • assessed as under-occupying your home.

What is under-occupying?

Under-occupying means that you have been assessed as having more bedrooms than the Government thinks you need.

Who is entitled under the new rules to a bedroom?

  • A couple
  • A person aged 16 or older
  • Two children of the same sex until their 16th birthday
  • Two children until their 10th birthday (any gender)
  • Any other child
  • Where the claimant or their partner requires over night care

Under-occupying by one bedroom? Your housing benefit will be reduced by 14%. We estimate this to be about £12.50 a week for a three bedroom home.

Under-occupying by 2 bedrooms or more? Your housing benefit will be reduced by 25%. We estimate this to be about £22.50 a week for a three bedroom home.

You will responsible for paying any shortfall in the rent on time and keeping a clear rent account.


The following are exempt from these underoccupying rules:

  • Tenants (or their spouse) over the qualifying age for claiming pension credit (this will vary depending on when the tenant (or spouse) was born).
  • Tenants who need the bedroom for a disabled child who is unable to share a bedroom.
  • Tenants who need the bedroom for a non-dependant who is serving in the armed forces and plans to return to the property.
  • Tenants who are approved foster carers and need the bedroom for a fostered child.
  • Disabled tenants, a child, or non-dependent adult, who need a bedroom for their carer(s) to provide overnight care.
  • A disabled couple, who cannot reasonably share a bedroom as a result of a member of the couple’s disability, and that member is in receipt of a specified disability benefit. 
  • Tenants living in a houseboat, caravan/mobile home, if it is temporary accommodation provided by the council under homelessness legislation, or supported accommodation.

What can you do if you are affected?

We have produced a list of options for you to consider, have a read through our "What can you do?" page.

A Family's Journey Through the Benefit Changes

This play was performed at our Get Togethers back in January 2013 and shows one family's journey through the benefit changes under the Welfare Reform Act. 

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