If you are of working age and rent your home from Oxford City Council, a housing association or another registered social landlord, your housing benefit or Universal Credit housing costs element may be cut if you have more bedrooms than the government says your household needs.
This is commonly called the 'bedroom tax'. The government also refers to it as 'removal of the spare room subsidy'.
How many bedrooms you are allowed
Bedroom tax rules allow one bedroom for:
- Each adult couple (married or unmarried)
- Any other person aged 16 or over
- Two children of the same gender under the age of 16
- Two children under 10 (regardless of gender)
- Any other child (excluding foster children or children who have a main home elsewhere)
- A carer (who does not live with you) if anyone in your household needs overnight care on a regular basis
If couples or children cannot share a bedroom because they are disabled, this may mean that they are allowed a bedroom of their own if there is a clear medical need for this.
How much benefit you could lose
If you have more bedrooms than the bedroom tax rules allow, your housing benefit or Universal Credit housing costs element may be reduced.
- If you have one spare bedroom, the rent used to calculate your benefit will be cut by 14%
- If you have two or more spare bedrooms, the rent used to calculate your benefit will be cut by 25%
For example, if your rent is £100 per week and you have one spare bedroom, the most we can pay you in housing benefit is £86 per week. If your rent is £100 per week and you have two or more spare bedrooms, the most we can pay you is £75 per week.
You are expected to make up the difference between your housing benefit or Universal Credit housing costs element and your rent yourself.
You will not be affected if:
- You or your partner are of pension credit age. You can check to see the date when you will reach pension credit age on the GOV.UK website
- You live in a shared ownership property
- You live in a caravan, mobile home or houseboat
- You live in certain types of supported accommodation
Homeless people in temporary accommodation provided by the council are usually exempt.
Young people and students
Children are usually counted as living in the home of the parent who gets child benefit for them.
If you are an approved foster carer and are fostering a child or have fostered a child in the last 12 months, you are allowed one extra bedroom.
Children who are students living away from home keep their bedroom allowance as long as they have been away for less than 52 weeks and they intend to return home.
Unable to share because of disability
If you have a severely disabled child who needs their own room, or you cannot share a bedroom with your partner because of disability, you may be allowed an extra bedroom. In deciding this, we will look at relevant issues which may include:
- Whether anyone in your household gets middle or higher rate care component of Disability Living Allowance, the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment, Attendance Allowance or Armed Forces Independence Payment
- Whether there is a medical need for care
- The nature and severity of the disability
- The nature and frequency of care required during the night
- How regularly and how badly another child's sleep would be disturbed if they had to share a room with their disabled brother or sister
- Whether there is enough space for partners to share a bedroom in separate beds
If your children are in the armed forces and normally live with you, you will keep their bedroom allowance if they are away on operations and intend to return to live with you.
What you can do if you are affected
We strongly advise that you contact our Welfare Reform Team who would be happy to discuss some of the options which may be available to you. The Welfare Reform Team may be able to give you temporary financial help to pay your rent - see our Discretionary Housing Payments page for more details.
If you are a council tenant, you can get in touch with your Tenancy Management Officer to discuss whether you can transfer or exchange to a smaller property, or take in a lodger.
We also offer an incentive scheme for council tenants to move into a smaller home.
Incentive scheme for council tenants to move into a smaller home leaflet (PDF)
You can also get advice about your options from the Citizens Advice Bureau or your neighbourhood advice centre.