The Bedroom Tax

The ‘Bedroom Tax’ is the name given to a reduction in the Housing Costs Element included in a Universal Credit award for social housing tenants ie those whose landlord is a Housing Association or Local Authority/Council.

It applies if, according to the government, you have more bedrooms than they think you need.

Your Housing Costs Element will be reduced by an amount equal to 14% of your eligible rent if you are regarded as having one ‘extra’ bedroom; or by 25% of your eligible rent if you have two or more ‘extra’ bedrooms.

How many bedrooms am I allowed?

When working out how many bedrooms you need, the DWP will consider everyone living in your home, apart from lodgers and foster children*.

They will allocate a bedroom to:

  • You (and your partner of you have one).
  • Someone aged 16 or over.
  • Children BUT…..
    • A boy and a girl are expected to share a bedroom if they are both under 10.
    • 2 boys or 2 girls are expected to share if they are both under 16. 
    • NOTE: Children who stay with you part of the time aren’t taken into account.

* And you may get an extra bedroom allocated if you fit into one of the groups below.

Once the DWP have worked out how many bedrooms you are deemed to need using these rules, they will regard any bedrooms you have above this as ‘extra’. This is regardless of its size, whether you use it or not, and regardless of what or who you use it for, and so the help you receive with your rent may be reduced.

See the Frequently Asked Questions below for ideas on challenging the DWP’s decisions.

Example:
Mr and Mrs Khan, both age 39, live with their two daughters aged 9 and 13 in a three bedroom house – their rent is £160 a week. As their daughters are expected to share a bedroom they are regarded as having one extra bedroom. The Housing Costs Element included in their Universal Credit award is reduced by a Bedroom Tax deduction of 14% of £160 – ie £22.40 a week. So their Housing Costs Element is £596.27 a month instead of £693.33.

Example:
Mr Smith, age 45, lives alone in a 3 bedroom house with a rent of £150 a week. As he has two ‘extra’ bedrooms the amount of the Housing Costs Element included in his Universal Credit award is reduced by a Bedroom Tax deduction of 25% of £150 – ie £37.50 a week. So his Housing Costs Element is £487.50 a month instead of £650
He will need to pay the full £650 to his landlord.
If a APA Managed Payment is in place, his landlord can be paid up to £487.40 ie the amount of the Housing Costs Element, meaning Mr Smith still has some rent to pay himself.

Unable to share a bedroom due to disability

A disabled child

If you have a child who is not reasonably able to share a bedroom because of their disability and they get the care component of Disability Living Allowance at the middle or high rate, you could be allowed an additional bedroom for them.

You will need to provide the DWP with details of the nature and frequency of the care your child needs during the night, and the extent and regularity of the disturbance to the sleep of the child who would normally have to share the bedroom with them.

Example:
Tamara lives in a three bedroom house with her two daughters age 6 an 9. Normally she would be deemed to need two bedrooms, but her youngest Eve has ADHD and is quite disruptive during the night. She gets Disability Living Allowance – high rate care and low rate mobility. When Tamara claimed Universal Credit she explained why Eve needed to have her own bedroom and the DWP agreed that so her Housing Costs Element was not reduced by a Bedroom Tax reduction.

Couples

If you are a couple and one of you is getting the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment, the middle or high rate care component of Disability Living Allowance, Armed Forces Independence Payment, the high rate of Attendance Allowance or Constant Attendance Allowance and, due to your or your partner’s physical or mental disability, you cannot reasonably share a bedroom, then you can be allocated a bedroom each.

This could be, for example, because:

  • the disabled person has to sleep in a special bed, cannot share this with their partner and there is no room in the bedroom for another bed, or
  • equipment such as a hoist means that there is only room for one single bed, or
  • because the non-disabled partner has their sleep disrupted frequently due to their partner’s disability.

A room for an overnight carer

If you, your partner, one of your children, foster children or non-dependants is disabled, and they ‘regularly’ receive overnight care from someone who does not normally live with you, then that carer can be regarded as needing a bedroom. The person requiring the care must be getting either the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment, the middle or high rate care component of Disability Living Allowance, Armed Forces Independence Payment or Attendance Allowance.

Example:
Joe is disabled, gets Universal Credit, and lives on his own in a 2 bedroom flat. His sister comes to stay with him when his disability causes him problems at night- usually once or twice a week. Because he gets standard rate daily living component of Personal Independence Payment and his sister sleeps in the second bedroom when she visits, he fits the rules that allow his ‘extra’ bedroom so his Universal Credit entitlement will not be reduced by the Bedroom Tax.

Foster Carers

If someone in the household is a foster carer – then an extra bedroom will be allocated.

NOTE: only one extra bedroom is allowed regardless of the number of foster children; but this rule still applies during gaps between fostering (while the gap is less than a year).

Grown up son or daughter in Armed Forces

If a son or daughter is in the armed forces but normally lives with you, they retain their bedroom whilst away on operations.

NOTE: They will be treated as living with you, and therefore a Housing Costs Contribution (non-dependant deduction) may be made from your Universal Credit award for the period before they went on operations and when they return.
See Non-dependant deductions for more information.

Away at University

If a son or daughter who normally lives with you is away at college / university, they can retain their bedroom whilst away from home, so long as:

  • Your home is their normal home, and
  • They intend to return (and do return) within 6 months.

Example:
Carl lives in a 3 bedroom house. His youngest son – Paul lives with him. His oldest son – Dan is away at University. When the DWP worked out Carl’s Housing Costs Element they applied a 14% Bedroom Tax deduction as they did not include Dan as living there. Carl’s Income Officer explains that if Dan returns home on a regular basis and still sees Carl’s house as his normal home then Carl could ask the DWP to review their decision. So Carl requests the review on his journal explaining that Dan still has the majority of his belongings at his home, is still on the electoral register at his address and that he comes home most months for a few days at a time. He explains that Dan sees his University house as a temporary address and not his main home. The DWP agree to review their decision and increase Carls’ Universal Credit award.

What can I do if I’m affected by the Bedroom Tax?

If the Housing Costs Element included in your Universal Credit award is being reduced by the Bedroom Tax:

  • First check that a Bedroom Tax deduction should apply to you (see the Frequently Asked Questions for more information). If you don’t think it should (maybe the DWP have the number of children wrong, or don’t know about your overnight carer) then contact them immediately, and let us know – we may be able to help.

  • If you are getting Universal Credit and no APA Managed Payment is in place, then you are responsible for paying your full rent out of your Universal Credit award and any other income. If you are finding this difficult, contact us – we may be able to help.
    See Alternative Payment Arrangements for more information about Managed Payments.

  • If the Bedroom Tax is being applied correctly and an APA Manged Payment is in place, then this will not cover all the rent that is due so contact your landlord to find out how much you have to pay. If you are struggling to pay your rent contact your landlord immediately, and seek advice for a Benefits Adviser or Money Adviser.

  • If you are having real difficulties paying your rent then you might be able to get a Discretionary Housing Payment – but the council’s budget is limited so you will need to explain your particular difficulties and provide a financial statement showing that you cannot afford the rent that is due.
    See Discretionary Housing Payments for more information.