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Changes to Housing Benefit - Size Criteria

Since April 2013 the Government has cut the amount of Housing Benefit you receive if you are a working age social housing tenant and have more bedrooms than you need under new rules.

What does this mean for me?

If you have one 'spare' bedroom your Housing Benefit is reduced by 14% of your eligible rent.

If you have two or more 'spare' bedrooms, your Housing Benefit is reduced by 25% of your eligible rent.

Eligible rent is the amount used to work out your Housing Benefit entitlement and does not include charges for water rates or heating your home that may be charged by your landlord.

What you are entitled to

The rules allow for one bedroom for each of the following:

  • A couple
  • A person who is 16 or older
  • Two children of the same sex
  • Two children under 10 years old
  • Any other child (but not a foster child or a child who normally lives elsewhere)

The rules allow for an extra bedroom if any of the following apply:

  • Someone in your home needs an overnight carer
  • A child is unable to share with a sibling because of a disability or health problem
  • A couple is unable to share because of a disability or health problem
  • Your household includes a foster parent
  • Your household includes an adult dependent who is away on operations with the armed forces

People not affected by the changes


  • You are of state Pension Credit age or have a partner who is state Pension Credit age
  • You have a shared ownership agreement
  • Your agreement is an 'excluded tenancy' under Schedule 2 of the HB regulations
  • You are placed in temporary accommodation by Richmond Council
  • You are living in 'exempt' supported accommodation
  • You are paying mooring charges for a house boat
  • You are paying site charges for a caravan or mobile home

What should I do if I am affected by these new rules?

The Government is offering the following advice to people affected by these Size Criteria rules:

  • Seek to move to a smaller home to avoid this shortfall
  • Take in a boarder or lodger to help meet your rent shortfall
  • Ask other family members who live with you to help meet your rent shortfall
  • Seek to move in to work or increase the number of hours you work to help meet your rent shortfall

If you are unable to do any of the above you can apply for extra help from Richmond Council’s Discretionary Housing Payment scheme. However, this help is limited to a short period and can only help vulnerable people whilst they seek to move or increase their income.

We will pass this information on to your landlord and they may contact you about the help and support they can give you to move to a more suitably sized property.

Where can I get more advice?

If you need independent information and advice about your benefit claim you can contact your local Citizens Advice. Their local helpline is 020 8712 7800.

Short-term exemptions

If a member of the household dies, and this reduces the amount of bedrooms you would be entitled to, the reduction in benefits will not apply for 12 months.

Updated: 11 September 2020

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