Under-occupancy deductions or Bedroom Tax

From 1 April 2013, the Government has reduced housing benefit for people of ‘working age’ if the bedrooms in your property are more than the guidelines say that you need.

What does ‘spare’ bedroom or ‘under-occupying’ mean?

This means having more bedrooms than the Government says are necessary. If you receive housing benefit and have a spare room, you will lose some housing benefit.

How many bedrooms am I allowed?

  • 1 bedroom for you and your partner
  • 1 bedroom for two children under 10 (regardless of gender)
  • 1 bedroom for two children under 16 of the same gender
  • 1 extra bedroom if you or your partner are disabled and require an overnight carer
  • Foster children
  • A disabled child who requires a separate bedroom

You are not allowed an extra room for children who come to stay at weekends.

How much is the bedroom tax?

  • 14% per week if you have one extra bedroom
  • 25% per week if you have two or more spare bedrooms.

What is ‘working age’?

At the moment it is less than 62 years old, and affects single applicants and couples where one of you is less than 62 years old.  Working age will continue to rise and will be 65 years by 2018.


  • The new rules will only apply to working age claimants.
  • People over the qualifying age for state pension credit or with a partner over that age will be exempt.

Parents of students

  • If a student’s main residency is their parents’ home, then their bedroom will not be considered as spare.

Bereaved families

  • Where under-occupancy arises due a death we allow a year’s grace so that bereaved families have some time to come to terms with their loss and are able to make the right decisions about their finances and size of accommodation.

Foster Carers

  • Approved foster carers whether or not they have a child placed with them or are between placements will be allowed an extra room, as long as they have fostered a child within the last 12 months or become a registered foster carer within the last 12 months.

Armed forces personnel

  • Wives or husbands of those serving in the armed forces will be unaffected by these changes.
  • Parents with adult children in the Armed Forces who continue to live with their parents will continue to be considered as living at home when applying the size criteria whilst away on operational duty.