6. Spare Room Subsidy

Spare Room Subsidy cuts the amount of Housing Benefit that you can get if you are considered to have a spare bedroom. This is also known as bedroom tax or underoccupancy charge.

Only working age people are affected. If you are of working age and live with a pensioner, the reduction will be applied to the eligible rent (the amount you pay minus any ineligible service charges) before the Council apportions the share of the rent for benefit purposes.


Mr and Mrs Freestone are an elderly mother and adult son who share the tenancy of a 3 bed Council house.

The rent for the property is £80 per week.

According to the government's rules they need a 2 bed house, so their eligible rent will reduce to £68.80 because a 14% reduction will apply as Mr Freestone is over accommodated.

The restriction does not apply to Mrs Freestone, so her Housing Benefit will be based on £40pw.

Mr Freestone will therefore have his benefit based on a restricted rent of £28.80.

Disabled people

At the moment there is no general exemption for disabled people, as the government have stated that there is already sufficient allowance for disabled people through the provision for an extra room, where the tenant has an overnight carer.

Sheltered Housing exemption

The only exception at the moment is people living in supported accommodation (sheltered housing).

How will the number of bedrooms needed be worked out?

You will be allowed one bed room for each of the following:

  • Every adult couple
  • Any other adult aged 16 or over
  • Any two children of the same sex aged under 16
  • Any two children regardless of sex aged under 10
  • Any other child aged under sixteen
  • Non resident carer (claimant/partner have disability and need overnight care)
  • A foster child
  • A son/daughter in the armed forces (who normally lives at the property)

If you have more bedrooms than allowed for by the size criteria then you are under-occupying and your Housing Benefit is likely to be reduced.

What counts as a bedroom?

When your landlord sets the rent they will normally have to define the number of bedrooms you have and this should be stated on your tenancy agreement.

How much will your Housing Benefit be reduced by?

If you live in property that is under occupied then the ‘eligible rent’ (the amount you pay minus any ineligible service charges) used to calculate your Housing Benefit will be reduced by a percentage:

  • One bedroom too many: 14% reduction
  • Two or more bedrooms too many: 25% reduction