The Social Size Criteria was introduced by the government in April 2013. It will affect you if you receive help with your rent from Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, and you have more bedrooms than the government says you need for your family size. There are a number of ways we can help you with the changes and this section has all of the details on how your weekly costs could change.
Browse the drop down information below to find out more.
How many bedrooms does the government say I can have?
The government will allow one bedroom for:
- A couple
- An adult aged over 16
- Two children of the same sex who are under 16
- Two children of the opposite sex who are 10 or under
- Any other child aged under 16
- A non-resident carer where they provide overnight care to a person with a disability
If you are seen as having too many bedrooms, the amount of housing benefit you receive will be reduced and you will have to pay the difference between the housing benefit you receive and the rent for your home.
How much could I lose?
You could lose:
- 14% if you have 1 spare bedroom
- 25% if you have 2 or more spare bedrooms
For example, if your rent is £100 per week and all of your rent is covered by Housing Benefit, you’ll have to pay £14 per week for one spare bedroom. If you have two or more spare bedrooms you’ll have to pay £25 per week.
What should I do if my housing benefit is reduced?
You are responsible for paying your rent and you’ll have to fund the difference between the Housing Benefit you receive and the rent for your home.
This will also affect you if you receive partial Housing Benefit. For example, if your rent is £100 per week and you only get £50 Housing Benefit, one extra bedroom will reduce your benefit to £36 per week or to £25 per week if you have two or more extra bedrooms.
If you do fall into arrears with rent, your Rent Payment Officer will have to commence action to recover the arrears in the standard way.
What help is available?
1. Discretionary Housing Payments
If you are struggling to afford your rent you can apply to your local council for Discretionary Housing Payments (also known as DHP). This can only be paid if you are entitled to Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit. It is up to the local council to decide if you can receive DHP so we can’t guarantee that it will be awarded.
When making an application you will need to explain the reasons why you are unable to afford your rent – this may be due to health-related expenses or high travel costs to get to work, to hospital for treatment or to care for someone. Your local council might ask you to provide proof of your outgoings or medical information to support your application.
DHP forms are available from your local housing benefit office and are often available on your local council’s website for you to complete and submit online.
If you’d like more information on Discretionary Housing Payments or need help to complete a form contact your Rent Payment Officer or our Money Advice Team on 0345 60 20 540.
2. Moving to a Smaller Property
If you think you won’t be able to afford the extra money and you want to look at a smaller home, you can register with Homes Direct an online service that advertises properties available with ourselves and other housing associations.
3. Managing Your Money
If you want to stay in your home and pay any extra money, we can help you to review your finances and start a budget to make sure you’re on track. All you need to do is book a place on a Money Management course with our experienced and friendly Money Advice Team. You’ll learn how to work out all your spending, create a budget and learn some handy tips to make your money go further.