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. Thesechanges 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 unoccupied. 

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 will receive a Welfare Supplementary Payment until 31 March 2020.

You don't need to claim the Welfare Supplementary Payment. 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.

More useful links

Share this page

What do you want to do?
What is your question about?
Do you want a reply?
Your email address
To reply to you, we need your email address
Your feedback

We will not reply to your feedback.  Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

This feedback form is for issues with the nidirect website only.

You can use it to report a problem or suggest an improvement to a webpage.

If you have a question about a government service or policy, you should contact the relevant government organisation directly as we don’t have access to information about you held by government departments.

You must be aged 13 years or older - if you’re younger, ask someone with parental responsibility to send the feedback for you.

The nidirect privacy notice applies to any information you send on this feedback form.

Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.
Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.

What to do next

Comments or queries about angling can be emailed to anglingcorrespondence@daera-ni.gov.uk 

What to do next

If you have a comment or query about benefits, you will need to contact the government department or agency which handles that benefit.  Contacts for common benefits are listed below.

Carer's Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912
Email 
dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Discretionary support / Short-term benefit advance

Call 0800 587 2750 
Email 
customerservice.unit@communities-ni.gov.uk

Disability Living Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912 
Email dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Employment and Support Allowance

Call 0800 587 1377

Jobseeker’s Allowance

Contact your local Jobs & Benefits office

Personal Independence Payment

Call 0800 587 0932

If your query is about another benefit, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

Comments or queries about the Blue Badge scheme can be emailed to bluebadges@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk or you can also call 0300 200 7818.

What to do next

For queries or advice about careers, contact the Careers Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Child Maintenance, contact the Child Maintenance Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about claiming compensation due to a road problem, contact DFI Roads claim unit.

What to do next

For queries or advice about criminal record checks, email ani@accessni.gov.uk

What to do next

Application and payment queries can be emailed to ema_ni@slc.co.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about employment rights, contact the Labour Relations Agency.

What to do next

For queries or advice about birth, death, marriage and civil partnership certificates and research, contact the General Register Office Northern Ireland (GRONI) by email gro_nisra@finance-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries about:

If your query is about another topic, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

For queries or advice about passports, contact HM Passport Office.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs), including parking tickets and bus lane PCNs, email dcu@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about pensions, contact the Northern Ireland Pension Centre.

What to do next

If you wish to report a problem with a road or street you can do so online in this section.

If you wish to check on a problem or fault you have already reported, contact DfI Roads.

What to do next

For queries or advice about historical, social or cultural records relating to Northern Ireland, use the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) enquiry service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about rates, email LPSCustomerTeam@lpsni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about  60+ and Senior Citizen SmartPasses (which can be used to get concessionary travel on public transport), contact Smartpass - Translink.