Bedroom Tax

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What is the Bedroom Tax?


The ‘Bedroom Tax’ is a reduction of housing benefits for certain groups of people who live in social housing, because they have more bedrooms than the Government say they need.


It's proper name is ‘social sector size criteria’. Councils are calling it by different names which include ‘under occupancy rules,’ and ‘under usage rules.’


The 'Bedroom Tax' has become it's popular 'street name' because it is seen as a tax on the number of bedrooms poorer families have.


The basis of the Bedroom Tax is; if you receive Housing Benefit, are in social housing, are aged between 16 or retirement age (in 2013 that was around the age of sixty one and a half) and have more bedrooms than the Government say you need then your housing benefit is reduced by, 14% for the first bedroom more than they say you need and 25% for two or more bedrooms than the Government say you need. The idea being is; why should the tax payer pay for you to have more then you need.


When it was first introduced there were to be no exceptions to these rules but, subsequently a few exceptions have been made for certain groups,

  • If you are a registered foster carer and have fostered one or more children in the last 12 months, or have only been registered within the last 12 months then you will not have your benefits reduced.
  • If you have a child with a disability who because of their disability cannot share a room with other siblings (Brothers and Sisters) then they are exempt from the reduction as well.
  • If you have an Adult Child in the Armed Forces who are away on active duty you will not be affected.
  • If you are a disabled person who needs an overnight carer and so has a bedroom for them you will not be expected to have your benefits reduced. 


All other people will have their benefits reduced and this includes Disabled People who need to have their own room for medical reasons, unless they have a night carer who comes in to care for them over night.  Where this is done by a spouse (husband or wife), or partner then they are still expected to be sleeping in the same room, so in that case, they will have their benefits reduced.


Separated couples, will not be allowed to both have a room for their child, only the person who is in receipt of the child benefit will be able to count them as part of their household.  This means a divorced couple each have a three bedroomed house so they have the accommodation for their children when they stay with them. The court has made an order that the children shall live with the mother during the week and the father at weekends. The mother receives the child benefit and as the children are over 10 years of age and of different sexes she will not lose any housing benefit.  The father on the other hand will lose 25% of his housing benefit even through under the court ruling he has to look after his two children every weekend.


Also older parents whose children have left home will only be allowed accommodation for themselves. So once again a couple who have lived in a three bedroom house all their married life and have stayed there will only be allowed one bedroom so will have their housing benefit reduced by 25%.  What ever happened to homes for life!


Many people are in larger accommodation than they need because the local social housing availability is such that smaller homes are not available. These people will still have their benefits reduced even though they have been placed in larger accommodation because smaller accommodation is not available.


The basic allowance for accommodation for people in social rented housing is that each person or couple is/are allowed one bedroom, with the exception of children under 16 years of age.  Two children of the same sex are expected to share a room with each other.  If the children are under 10 then two children of any gender are expected to share a room.


This means that  a couple with an eight year old girl and a nine year old boy will only be allowed two bedrooms.  When the Boy reaches 10 then they will be allowed 3 bedrooms.