How much is the bedroom tax?

UK Home Improvement

How Much is The Bedroom Tax?

Tax is a complex and controversial subject in the UK, with bedroom tax perhaps one of the most divisive examples around.

If you have a spare bedroom and are renting a housing association or council property, you may be impacted by the bedroom tax.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what bedroom tax is, how much it costs and whether you are affected. 

Read on to find out more.

What Is The Bedroom Tax?

First, let’s examine what bedroom tax actually is. 

The bedroom tax was officially introduced to the UK in April 2013 by David Cameron’s Conservative government. The policy is designed to cut housing benefits for social tenants who are deemed to have a ‘spare’ bedroom in the property they are living in. 

Those people who have a spare bedroom in their council or housing association rental property will be impacted by the bedroom tax and will likely have some of their housing benefit, or housing costs element of Universal Credit, reduced. 

You will also have to be of working age for the tax to apply to you. 

It is also known as an ‘under occupancy charge’ or ‘removal of the spare room subsidy’ in language outlined by the Department of Work and Pensions.  

How Much Is Bedroom Tax?

As previously mentioned, bedroom tax reduces the housing benefit or Universal Credit payments and the amount of money reduced will depend on how much your rent is.

The percentage of bedroom tax that is reduced from your benefit payments will vary depending on how many bedrooms are vacant in your property.  

If you have one spare bedroom then you will lose 14% of your benefits relating to housing payments, and if you have two spare bedrooms this is increased to 25%. 

The purpose of the tax is to encourage people to be more efficient with their housing and ensure no rooms are being left vacant which could, in theory, be housing others. 

Who Is Affected By Bedroom Tax?

You will be affected by the bedroom tax in the following circumstances: 

  • If you’re classed as having a spare bedroom or bedrooms
  • You’re aged between 16 and State Pension Credit Age
  • You receive Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit
  • You rent your property from your local council, housing association or a registered social landlord 

You may be wondering what is officially classed as a spare bedroom. There is a methodology that informs how the government make this assessment and it is as follows:

  • Two children under the age of 16 are expected to share a bedroom if they are of the same gender
  • Two children under the age of 10 are expected to share, regardless of gender 
  • You’re allowed one individual bedroom for each person aged 16 and above in the property 

If you live in Scotland and are impacted by bedroom tax, you can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment. This is because the devolved Scottish government have guaranteed to make payments to these people to ensure no one is worse off.

If you live in Northern Ireland, the devolved government will also provide funds to those impacted by bedroom tax to ensure they are not worse off. 

Who Is Exempt From Bedroom Tax?

There are several exemptions to the bedroom tax, so it’s important you check whether you fall under any of the following categories:

  • If you, or your partner, are over the qualifying age for State Pension Credit then you won’t be impacted by bedroom tax. However, if your housing is paid for by Universal Credit rather than Housing Benefit, you will both need to be over State Pension Credit age (currently 66 years old) to be exempt.
  • If you’re an approved foster carer you’ll be exempt from bedroom tax. This rule applies even between foster placements as long as you have fostered at least one child within the last 12 months.
  • If you have an adult child who is a student and who uses your home as their main residence. In these instances, they must not go more than 52 weeks (once a year) without returning home. However, if your housing is paid for via Universal Credit rather than Housing Benefit then they must not go more than six months without returning home. 
  • If you receive care, support or supervision from your landlord in supported-exempt accommodation, then you will be exempt from the bedroom tax. 
  • If you have been placed in temporary accommodation as a result of being homeless.
  • If you have a spare bedroom as a result of a death in your household, you won’t be affected for 52 weeks. However, this is reduced to three months if your rental payments come from Universal Credit.   
  • If you bought a home under a shared ownership scheme and pay rent to another party for their share.
  • If you’re living in a place to support victims of domestic abuse and can provide written evidence from a police officer, social worker or other professional organisation.

As well as the exemptions outlined above, there are also specific exemptions for disabled people. 

For example, if you or your partner rely on overnight care from a carer or team of carers, you’re allowed an additional bedroom without having to pay the bedroom tax.

As well as this, an extra bedroom is allowed for a severely disabled child who is receiving either the middle or higher rate of Disability Living Allowance and cannot share a bedroom due to their disability and specific needs. 

How To Handle Bedroom Tax

If you’re being impacted by the bedroom tax, there are a number of things you can do to ensure you’re protected and still able to fulfil your payments. 

This includes:

Contact your landlord: Open a dialogue with your landlord (your council or housing association) outlining your concerns. There may be ways they can help with your situation including moving you to a property where bedroom tax won’t be an issue.

Enquire about Discretionary Housing Payment: As mentioned above, people in Scotland and Northern Ireland can get a Discretionary Housing Payment if they are impacted by the bedroom tax. People in England and Wales may also be able to receive this from their local authority but unlike in Scotland and Northern Ireland where everyone will be granted it, local authorities will decide who receives it.

Draw up a budget: If you don’t already have one, create a budget listing all of your incomings and outgoings. Make sure to prioritise necessary payments such as rent.

Consider a lodger: If you fill the spare bedroom then you will no longer be impacted by the bedroom tax. With this in mind, check if any friends or family need a place to stay. 


By clicking "Accept All Cookies", you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyse site usage, assist in our marketing efforts, and for personalised advertising.

More Information Accept All Cookies