If you have a spare bedroom then your Universal Credit or Housing Benefit may be reduced. This is sometimes called the 'Bedroom Tax', the 'under-occupation penalty' or the 'removal of the spare room subsidy'.
If you are affected, the housing element of Universal Credit or your Housing Benefit can be cut by the following percentage:
- 14% for one extra bedroom
- 25% for two or more extra bedrooms
What are the exemptions and rules?
- You may not be affected if you have a severely disabled child who requires their own room. In some circumstances a severely disabled child is to be allowed their own bedroom - usually if they would seriously disrupt the sleep of another child in the property at night if they were to share a room.
- You may not be affected if you are a foster carer, as long as you have fostered a child or have become an approved foster carer in the last 12 months. If so you will be allocated an extra spare room. If you are affected by the Bedroom Tax and have more than one foster child you will be able to apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment.
Foster carers are exempt whether a child has been placed with you or not, or you are between placements.
- You may not be affected if you have an adult child who is serving in the armed forces who is away on duty. They will be deemed as still living at home and therefore allocated a bedroom while away on operations.
- If you have an adult child who is living in barracks as part of pre-deployment training, they may not be affected. However, if an adult child is living in barracks but they are not on duty they will not be deemed as living in the home and you will be affected by Bedroom Tax.
- You may not be affected if you have a spare room for the use of an overnight carer - you will be affected by bedroom tax if the spare room is only used by carers or for medical reasons during the day.
What is a spare room?
There are a number of different rules about what counts as a spare bedroom:
- Children of both sexes aged under 10 would be expected to share a bedroom. If they currently do not share and they remain in separate rooms, one of their rooms will be considered as a spare bedroom.
- Children of the same gender aged under 16 would be expected to share a bedroom.
- If a bedroom (with or without furniture) is kept free for when a child comes to stay with a parent that they do not normally live with, this room will be considered as a spare bedroom.
- Extra bedrooms for medical reasons will not be allowed and will still be affected by the rules of Bedroom Tax e.g. a couple using separate bedrooms because one of them is ill or recovering from an operation.
If you would like any further advice or information, please contact our Money Matters team at email@example.com.