The “bedroom tax”

What is the “bedroom tax”?

Your housing benefit or Universal Credit will be reduced if you have more bedrooms than your family is judged as needing. This is commonly described as ‘the bedroom tax’.

The benefits are cut by 14% if you have one spare bedroom or 25% if you have two or more spare bedrooms.

Might I be affected?

This could happen if your home is considered too large for you – for example, if your children have grown up and left home and you now have a spare bedroom.

You won’t be affected if you or your partner are no longer of working age. This is the age at which you can get Pension Credit. It doesn’t matter whether you actually get Pension Credit, or whether you’re still working or not, it’s about whether you’re counted as being over working age.

When will my home count as too big for me?

If you have more bedrooms than the government says you need, your home will be counted as being too big for you. Your tenancy agreement will state how many bedrooms your home has.

You’re allowed one bedroom for each person living in your home unless they’re expected to share. Two people are expected to share one bedroom if they’re:

· two adults in a couple

· two children aged 10 or less

· two children aged 16 or less, if they’re the same sex.

Adults in a couple don’t have to share a room if one of them has a disability which means they have to sleep apart. The disabled partner also needs to get a disability benefit. A child is allowed their own bedroom if they have a disability that means they can’t share a room.

Are there any exceptions to the rules?

You can get an extra bedroom for a person who doesn’t always live with you if:

· you have an adult child in the Armed Forces

· you’re a foster carer

· someone who lives with you needs an overnight carer.

Otherwise, you can only have a bedroom for people who live with you all the time. This means you’ll get less if you have a spare room for children who’ve moved out but sometimes come to stay.

If someone normally lives with you but is away from home, they still count as living with you, if they meet these conditions:

· they intend to return to live with you

· you haven’t sublet their room

· if they’re in the UK, they aren’t likely to be away for more than 13 weeks

· if they’re outside the UK, they aren’t likely to be away for more than 4 weeks.

Someone can still count as living with you if they’re away for up to a year if they intend to come home and are in hospital, or away studying or training.