The new size criteria rules for social housing bring them in line with private sector rules. The new rules restrict the size of accommodation claimants can receive housing benefit on, based on the number of people in their household.

Sharing bedrooms

The following are expected to share:

  • an adult couple
  • 2 children under 16 of the same sex
  • 2 children under 10 (regardless of sex)

The following can have their own bedroom:

  • a single adult (16 or over)
  • a child that would normally share but shared bedrooms are already taken, e.g. you've 3 children and 2 already share
  • children who can't share because of a disability or medical condition
  • a non-resident overnight carer for you or your partner (but only if they must stay overnight)

One spare bedroom is allowed for:

  • 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 them during that time

Rooms used by students and members of the armed or reserve forces will not be counted as 'spare' if they're away and intend to return home.

This means:

  • no extra bedrooms will be allowed for when someone visits. This includes where a child comes to stay with a parent that they do not normally live with
  • no bedrooms will be allowed for medical reasons, for example where a couple need separate rooms because one of them is ill
  • if you have one bedroom more than you need (according to the rules) your Housing Benefit will be cut by 14% of the rent you pay every week
  • if you have two or more spare bedrooms your Housing Benefit will be cut by 25% of the rent you pay every week

Advice and options

  • stay in your present property and pay the shortfall
  • try to find work and increase your income. This will help you pay for the extra bedroom that the new rules say you are not entitled to
  • talk to us about moving to a smaller home
  • take in a lodger - but get advice to see if it affects your benefits
  • see if you are eligible for discretionary housing payments to help with the shortfall for a limited period. See more about discretionary housing payments>>
  • apply for a mutual exchange on the Homeswapper website or contact us directly
  • check that you are receiving all the benefits and tax credits you are entitled to by contacting the South Kesteven Citizens Advice Bureau on 08444 111444 or visit the Citizens Advice Bureau website
  • visit the Turn2Us benefits and advice website
  • visit the Step Change Debt Charity (previously known as the Consumer Credit Counselling Service)

Find out more in our Changes to Benefits Welfare Reform leaflet below.