Removal of the spare room subsidy

From April 2013, any household that the Government says has more bedrooms than they need, will receive less Housing Benefit. This is called removal of the spare room subsidy, but is also known as the ‘bedroom tax’, ‘social sector size criteria’ or ‘under-occupation rules’.

If you are a tenant of a Housing Association, contact them directly to discuss what can be done to help you.

The following options are open to you if you are affected by the bedroom size criteria restrictions:

  • Move to an appropriately sized home in the social or private rented sector. If you wish to stay in social housing you can:
  • Ask non-dependants (other adults in the household) to contribute to help pay the rent.
  • Take in a lodger. You must check with your landlord to see if you are able to take in a lodger, as in some cases this might be a breach in your conditions of tenancy and it could also affect your Housing Benefit entitlement.
  • Ask your employer to increase your hours of work.
  • Search for a job if you do not already work.
  • Apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment. If you currently receive Housing Benefit, you may still have to pay something towards your rent. If you are suffering severe financial hardship as a result, or your tenancy is at risk, you may be able to get a discretionary payment to help towards these payments.

Age rules

If you are claiming Housing Benefit and you or your partner are no longer classed as being of ‘working age’, you will be exempt from the removal of the spare room subsidy. This means that you will not have your Housing Benefit reduced if you have more bedrooms than you need.

You can check:

  • When you will reach State Pension age
  • Your Pension Credit qualifying age.

You do not have to qualify for Pension Credit to be exempt from the removal of the spare room subsidy.

If you are in a couple, providing one of you is no longer of ‘working age’, you will continue to be exempt from removal of the spare room subsidy once you transfer to Universal Credit.

If you are making a new claim for Universal Credit or you have transferred to Universal Credit before reaching pensionable age, both you and your partner must be of pensionable age to be exempt from the removal of the spare room subsidy.

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