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Bedroom Tax - size criteria in the social rented sector

You may be affected if you are deemed to have one or more spare bedrooms and you are receiving Housing Benefit or the Housing Element of Universal Credit (UC).

The size criteria is also known as the "Bedroom Tax" or under-occupation charge:

  • Size criteria in the social rented sector applies only to working age tenants. 
  • It applies to people living in council, housing association and housing co-operative homes.  
  • A similar scheme already applies to people living in private sector tenancies who are claiming Local Housing Allowance (Housing Benefit or UC Housing Element for private tenants) and are deemed to have one or more spare bedrooms

What does the size criteria in the Social Rented Sector mean?

The following will be expected to share: 

  • every adult couple (married or unmarried)
  • any two children of the same sex aged under 16
  • any two children aged under 10

The following can have their own bedroom:

One spare bedroom is allowed for

  • Adoption, fostering and kinship care, one additional room is allowed for a foster carer who is between placements but only for up to 52 weeks from the end of the last placement. Only one additional room is allowed even if you have more than one child in your care.

Rooms used by students and members of the armed or reserve forces will not be counted as 'spare' if they're away and intend to return home.

Who will be affected?

All Housing Benefit claimants and claimants receiving the Housing Element of UC who are deemed to have at least one spare bedroom will be affected including:

  • separated parents who share the care of their children even if they have specifically been allocated an extra bedroom for this
  • couples who use their spare bedroom when recovering from an illness or operation
  • parents whose children visit and stay overnight but are not part of the household
  • disabled people including people living in adapted or specially designed properties.

Bereaved families

Where under-occupancy arises due to a death,  the size criteria reduction will not apply for 52 weeks in order to give bereaved families time to come to terms with their loss and to make the right decisions about their finances and size of accommodation.

What will the reduction to Housing Benefit and UC Housing Element be?

The reduction will be a fixed percentage of the eligible rent figure of:

  • 14% for one extra bedroom
  • 25% for two or more extra bedrooms

If you are affected by the size criteria in the social rented sector, you should apply for Discretionary Housing Payments to cover the shortfall.

We administer Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) on behalf of the Scottish Government and DHPs are paid in respect of Social Sector Size Criteria, or the "Bedroom Tax" as it is also known, however you must make an application to be awarded. Once an initial application is made and so long as your circumstances do not change this will be automatically renewed on an annual basis. If your circumstances change and you are no longer affected by the "bedroom tax" then you should let us know so that you are not overpaid DHP.

Last modified on 31 August 2020

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