Updated 21 March 2013
Removal of the Housing Benefit spare room subsidy in the social rented sector
The Welfare Reform Act 2012 announced that the current rules for the size of accommodation that Housing Benefit will cover in the private rented sector will be applied to working age tenants renting in the social sector.
From April 2013 all current and future working age tenants renting from a local authority, housing association or other registered social landlord will receive Housing Benefit based on the need of their household.
The size criteria allows one bedroom for each person or couple living as part of the household with the following exceptions:
- Children under 16 of the same gender are expected to share
- Children under 10 are expected to share regardless of gender
- A disabled tenant or partner who needs a non-resident overnight carer will be allowed an extra room.
- Foster carers will be allowed one additional room, so long as they have fostered a child or become an approved foster carer within the last 52 weeks.
- Parents with adult children in the armed forces (or reservists) who normally live with them will be able to retain the bedroom for that adult child when they are deployed on operations
Guidance was also sent to local authorities on 12 March 2013 to confirm that they should follow case law (Burnip/ Gorry/ Trengove) and allow a room for a disabled child who is unable to share a bedroom.
This means those tenants whose accommodation is larger than they need may lose part of their Housing Benefit. Those with one extra bedroom will have a 14 per cent reduction applied to their eligible rent and those with two or more extra bedrooms will have a 25 per cent reduction applied.
Further Information can be found in the impact assessment and the frequently asked questions:
Communicating the change
Local authorities have contacted those potentially affected to raise awareness of this change and to confirm the information they have about the size of a claimant’s accommodation and household. This ensures the local authority holds the accurate and up to date information necessary to calculate the award of Housing Benefit from April 2013.
Factsheets and posters
The factsheet below details who may be affected by the change from April 2013. It provides further details about the change and other sources of help:
- Housing Benefit size criteria factsheet (HBSSSC1) (109KB )
- Housing Benefit size criteria factsheet – Welsh (HBSSSC1W) (133KB)
The poster below should be displayed where appropriate to help to raise awareness of the change with Housing Benefit claimants:
- Housing Benefit size criteria poster (70KB)
- Housing Benefit size criteria poster – bilingual for use in Wales (87KB)
How you can help to support those affected
Housing Benefit claimants affected by this change need to be aware of the impact this may have on their benefit so they can see if the excess rent can be met from their other income, which will allow them to stay in their home. Other ways of addressing the shortfall could be to:
- Move home – they may be able to move to more appropriately sized social rented accommodation with the help of their landlord. Alternatively, they may choose to look at privately rented property to find the right sized accommodation for their household.
- Rent out the spare bedroom(s) – with the agreement of the landlord they may be able to take in a boarder or lodger to fill any unoccupied room. This would mean the room would not be treated as unoccupied for the purposes of applying the size criteria rule and the claimant may find they are better off due to the additional income.
- Have family members contribute more – if there are other non-dependants living in the accommodation the excess rent may be covered through new or increased contributions.
- Move in to work / increase hours – moving into work or increasing working hours may increase their income and help to cover any reduction in Housing Benefit.
Discretionary Housing Payments
An additional £25 million per year will be available from 2013/14 to help with the introduction of this change. This extra funding is aimed at disabled people living in significantly adapted accommodation.