What is the bedroom tax?

If you have a spare bedroom and you’re renting a council or housing association property, your Housing Benefit, or housing costs element of Universal Credit, might be reduced.

This is often referred to as the ‘bedroom tax’ – or the ‘under-occupation penalty’ or ‘removal of the spare room subsidy’.

Who is affected by the 'bedroom tax'?

The penalty will affect you if:

  • You’re classed as having a spare bedroom
  • You’re aged between 16 and minimum State Pension Credit age
  • You get Housing Benefit (or the housing element of Universal Credit)
  • You rent your property from a local authority, housing association or registered social landlord.

The following rules are used when working out whether you have a spare room:

  • two children under 16 of the same gender are expected to share
  • two children under 10 are expected to share, regardless of their gender
  • you’re allowed one bedroom for each person over 16 or couple in a household.
How will the 'bedroom tax' affect you?

If you’re affected, your eligible Housing Benefit – or the housing element of Universal Credit – is cut by:

14% for one extra bedroom

25% for two or more extra bedrooms.

So, for example, if your rent is currently £380 a month, your benefit is cut by:

£53.20 a month for one extra bedroom

£95 a month for two extra bedrooms.

Resolving bedroom tax Issues

Complete a benefit calculator to check your benefit entitlement.

Online Benefit Calculators

Challenging a ‘bedroom tax’ decision

You’re allowed to appeal against a bedroom tax decision. The most common reason for appealing is when you need the extra bedroom because you, your partner, your child, or non-dependant adult needs to use it overnight.

If you’re getting Housing Benefit, you’ll need to write to your local council within one month of the date of the decision.

Find out more about appealing against a bedroom tax decision on the Carer’s UK website www.carersuk.org

If you’re on Universal Credit, you’ll first have to ask for a mandatory reconsideration of the decision before you can make an appeal within one month of the date of the decision.

Claim a Discretionary Housing Payment from your council

Every year your council is given a pot of money to help people who need extra help with housing costs.

You might be able to apply for this top-up payment if you’re getting the housing costs element of Universal Credit or Housing Benefit.

The council decides who should be given what they call a Discretionary Housing Payment.

Read more

Renting out your spare bedroom is a possibility

If you do decide to go down this route, there are a few things you need to know:

  • Speak with your Housing Officer first.
  • Having a lodger would mean you’re no longer considered as having a spare bedroom when your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit is assessed.
Draw up a budget

If you don’t already have a household budget (a list of all your income and outgoings) then now’s the time to draw one up.

Create a budget

And if you do have a budget, you’ll need to see whether you can still make ends meet after your Housing Benefit is reduced.