Benefits - size criteria


If you are of working age and have one or more spare bedrooms, you may be affected.

You will not be affected if:

  • You or your partner are of Pension Age.  You can check to see the date when you will reach pension age on the State Pension Age calculator
  • You rent a one bedroom flat or a bed-sit

What are the changes?

If you rent your home from a social sector landlord, such as Paradigm Housing Group, your Housing Benefit may be reduced if you have more bedrooms than your household needs.

This will create a shortfall in the help that you may receive towards your rent and so you need to make arrangements to make up this difference to your landlord to prevent falling into arrears.

You are allowed one bedroom for

  • Each adult couple
  • Any household member aged 16 or over
  • Two children of the same sex under the age of 16
  • Two children under 10 of either sex
  • Any additional children (three children are not expected to share a room)
  • A carer who does not normally live with you, if you or your partner needs an overnight carer

Additional Bedroom Criteria

Some people may need care and support while living at home and this care might extend throughout the night. Others are unable to share a bedroom due to a physical disability.

If you or your partner require care throughout the night and have set aside a bedroom that is used by a non-residential carer, or team of carers, for overnight stays, or your children are unable to share a bedroom due to severe disabilities, then you may be entitled to additional help with your rent through the Housing Benefit scheme.

From 11st April 2017, this is extended to include disabled children or non-dependant adults with the need for an overnight non-resident carer and couples who are unable to share a bedroom due to a disability.

In order to establish whether an extra bedroom can be taken into account for a non-resident carer, you will need to prove that:   

  • Care has been arranged
  • a spare bedroom is available for the carer (or team of carers)
  • an extra bedroom has not already been provided for a non-resident overnight carer (or team of carers) in the same household

In addition you, your partner, the disabled child or non-dependant adult must be in receipt of:

  • middle or higher rate care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • Attendance Allowance (AA)
  • the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or
  • the Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP)

To determine if a child or couple are unable to share a bedroom, we will first need to make an assessment as to whether an individual cannot reasonably share a bedroom because of his or her disability. This will be a judgement on the basis of the facts:

  • Are the children/couple able to share a bedroom in spite of their physical disabilities (one or both of them)? This may mean they have two single beds in one bedroom, in which case you are not entitled to an additional bedroom
  • If there is a physical disability that prevents them from sharing a bedroom (for example related to medical equipment, hospital beds, hoists etc) and there is insufficient space for two single beds an additional bedroom should be considered, but see the further qualifying test below

Further qualifying test will be that a child or one member of the couple is in receipt of:

  • the middle or higher rate care component of DLA
  • higher rate AA
  • the daily living component of PIP or
  • AFIP

Foster Families & Armed Forces Personnel

Foster parents who have one spare room, whether or not a child has been placed with them, so long as they have fostered a child or been approved to do so within the past 12 months will be allowed a bedroom.

Also members of the armed forces who are living with their parents will be regarded as still occupying their room while away on operations.

How will this affect my Housing Benefit?

If you have one spare bedroom the amount of rent used to calculate your Housing Benefit will be reduced by 14%.

If you have two or more spare bedrooms the amount of rent used to calculate your Housing Benefit will be reduced by 25%.

Example 1
Mr and Mrs Smith live in a two bedroom flat. They have one spare bedroom. They pay £150 a week rent. Their Housing Benefit is £150 a week.

From April 2013, the rent used to assess their Housing Benefit will be reduced by 14% to £129.00. Their Housing Benefit will be £129.00 and they will have to pay £21.00 a week towards their rent.

Example 2
Mrs Shah and her two sons aged 12 and 8 live in a four bedroom house. Her rent is £200 a week. Mrs Shah receives £100 a week Housing Benefit towards her rent.

From April 2013, the rent used to assess her Housing Benefit will be reduced by 25% to £150.00 a week. Her Housing Benefit will be £75 and she will have to pay £125 a week towards her rent.

What can I do?

If you are worried about paying your rent from April 2013 you should contact your landlord or the Revenues and Benefits Section.

There are a number of options you have that may help with the shortfall in your rent and these should be considered:

  • Try to find some paid work, or increase your hours at work to increase your income.
  • Make sure that you are claiming all the benefits that you are entitled to. For example, Disability Living Allowance or Tax Credits.  You can find a lot of information about benefits from the Department for Work and Pensions
  • Cover the shortfall in your rent from your current income
  • Ask non-dependant members of the household to contribute or increase their contributions towards the rent
  • Seek advice from your landlord, Citizens Advice or the Revenues and Benefits Section

You must tell the Revenues and Benefit Section, the Job Centre and the Tax Credit office if you:

  • Move to a smaller property. Contact your landlord to seek advice and see if this is possible
  • Take in a lodger. Seek permission from your landlord first and advise the Revenues and Benefits Service of any changes