Social Sector Size Criteria

From April 2013, all working age housing benefit claimants in a local authority or housing association property who have more bedrooms than they need will have their benefit reduced by:

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

Is everyone affected by the under occupancy rules?

You will be affected by the changes if you are working age and a housing association tenant in receipt of housing benefit, even it is only a small amount. This applies if you are sick or disabled. You will not be affected if you (and your partner if you have one) meet the size criteria or are old enough to receive pension credit.

Who is entitled to a bedroom of their own?

  • An adult couple (married or unmarried and living together).
  • Any other adult aged 16 and over.
  • Any two children of the same sex aged under 16.
  • Any two children aged under 10, regardless of sex.
  • Any other child (other than a foster child or child whose main home is elsewhere).
  • A carer who has a home elsewhere, but stays overnight to provide care.

This means, for example, that a child under the age of 16 is expected to share with another child of the same gender. A child under the age of 10 is expected to share with another child under the age of 10 regardless of gender.

What happens if my partner and I have joint custody of our children?

Only one parent will be 'allowed' bedrooms for their children. This will be the parent who receives child benefit or tax credits. The other parent will be considered to be under occupying if he/she has extra bedrooms for children.

What options are available if I am assessed as under occupying?

If you are assessed as under occupying, these are some of the options available to you:

  • pay the difference and stay in the tenancy
  • ask any other members of your household to pay more
  • think about moving to a smaller tenancy
  • think about how to manage with less money - help is available from Citizens Advice Bureau if you need advice about budgeting and debt management
  • look at ways of earning additional income
  • think about sub-letting a room, although this may affect the amount of housing benefit you receive so get advice first.

What about discretionary housing payments (DHP)?

DHP may be available to help toward your rent costs if you are meet the criteria as set out by the Comhairle’s DHP Policy (99.4kB) (Opens in a new window or downloads a file). You can apply by completing a DHP Application (124.2kB) (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) .