Housing Benefit Size Criteria from April 2013

Written on . Posted in Benefits, Residents, Your money

Size criteria will now be applied in the social rented sector (eg council and housing association properties). This means that people living in houses larger than they need (under-occupiers) will have to move to somewhere smaller or make up the difference in rent because their Housing Benefit will be reduced:

  • 14% cut in Housing Benefit if you under-occupy by one bedroom
  • 25% cut in Housing Benefit if you under-occupy by two or more bedrooms

This change is for working-age people only. The size criteria is as follows

  • 1 bedroom for each adult or adult couple plus
  • 1 bedroom for every 2 children under the age of 10 (regardless of gender)
  • 1 bedroom for every 2 children under the age of 16 if they are the same gender
  • 1 bedroom for any other child
  • 1 bedroom for a non resident carer if providing care for the tenant or their partner.

Below is a list of potential ideas that you could consider to help manage the potential shortfall in your rent.

  • Move home – Is there the ability to move to more appropriately sized social rented accommodation with the help of your landlord. Alternatively, have you considered looking at privately rented accommodation to find the right sized property for your household.
  • Rent out the spare bedroom(s) – Can you get the agreement with your landlord 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 you may find you are better off due to the additional income.
  • Have family members contribute more – If you have other non-dependants living in your property 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 your income and help to cover any reduction in Housing Benefit.

Extra Help

Extra help will be made available by means of a Discretionary Housing Payment Fund for those who are affected by this change. This money is intended primarily for:

  • Those that have to remain in their property as it has been adapted to suit their disability.
  • Those who have to keep a room spare as they are registered foster carers.

Please note that the Discretionary Housing Payment fund has a limited budget. Once utlised no further monies is released from central government until the next financial year.

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