Changes to Housing Benefit
Social Sector Size Criteria has changed how Housing Benefit is calculated for tenants in social housing. Social Sector Size Criteria is sometimes called the ‘Bedroom Tax’.
Tenants affected by the changes
The changes affect Housing Executive and housing association tenants, aged between 16 and State Pension age, who receive Housing Benefit. These changes also affect tenants in privately rented properties.
People not affected by the changes
You will not be affected by Social Sector Size Criteria if:
- you or your partner have reached State Pension age
- you live in supported accommodation
- you live in a houseboat, caravan or mobile home
- you live in a shared co-ownership scheme
- you live in temporary accommodation
Social Sector Size Criteria
Housing Benefit is calculated on the number of bedrooms in your home and the number of people living there.
One bedroom is allowed for:
- a couple
- a person aged 16 or over
- two children of the same sex aged under 16
- two children aged under 10
- any other child (other than a foster child or child whose main home is elsewhere)
- children who can’t share because of a disability or medical condition
- a non-resident carer or carers providing overnight care
Households which might be allowed an extra bedroom
Your household may be allowed an extra bedroom if you are:
- an approved foster carer who has a child placed with you
- an approved foster carer who is between placements but only for up to 52 weeks from the end of the last placement
- a newly approved foster carer for up to 52 weeks from the date of approval if no child is placed with you during that time
If a student or member of the armed forces has a bedroom in your home but they're away, their bedroom won't count as having no-one living in it.
A couple who cannot share because of a disability or medical condition might be allowed an extra room.
You might be allowed an extra room if you had a bereavement recently in your household.
Changes to your Housing Benefit
If you are assessed as having one or more extra bedrooms than your household needs, the amount of Housing Benefit you receive will go down.
Housing Benefit allowed for your rent and certain service charges will reduce by:
• 14 per cent if you have one extra bedroom
• 25 per cent if you have two or more extra bedrooms
Welfare Supplementary Payment
If your Housing Benefit goes down due to Social Sector Size Criteria, you may be entitled to a Welfare Supplementary Payment .
If you think you may be entitled to this payment, contact the Welfare Supplementary Payment Team to check if you are eligible. If you qualify for the payment, your landlord will receive a payment If your Housing Benefit is paid to you, you'll receive a direct payment.
Help and advice
If you need more information about Housing Benefit, contact the Housing Executive.
For help and advice on changes to the welfare system, contact the Welfare Changes Helpline.