Social Sector Size Criteria (Bedroom Tax) has changed how Housing Benefit is calculated for social housing tenants.
Tenants affected by SSSC
It affects Housing Executive and housing association tenants aged between 16 and the State Pension age.
How does SSSC affect my Housing Benefit
The rent used to calculate your Housing Benefit award is now based on the number of bedrooms you and your household need. It is not calculated on the number of bedrooms in your home.
Bedrooms allowed for SSSC
You can have one bedroom for:
each adult couple
every other person aged 16 or over
any two children of the same sex aged under 16
any two children aged under 10
any other child (a foster child if you are an approved foster parent)
member of a couple who cannot share because of a disability or medical condition
a child who cannot share because of a disability or medical condition
non-resident carer providing overnight care to you or a member of the household
If you have more bedrooms than you need
If there are more bedrooms in your home than you need, we will reduce the rent we use to work out your Housing Benefit by:
Tenants not affected
Social Sector Size Criteria will not affect you if:
you or your partner are State Pension Credit Age
you live in supported accommodation
you live in temporary accommodation
you live in a co-ownership property
you live in a houseboat, caravan or mobile home
You can read more on gov.uk about:
Welfare Supplementary Payment
If your Housing Benefit goes down because you are affected by the Social Sector Size Criteria, then you may receive a mitigation payment. This is called Welfare Supplementary Payment.
Do I need to apply for Welfare Supplementary Payment?
You do not need to apply for this financial help. The Housing Executive will work with the Department for Communities to calculate the amount to be paid. If you qualify, it will be paid directly into your rent account.
Can I lose Welfare Supplementary Payment?
Under previous legislation the WSP payment would have stopped if you moved to another social sector house which had the same number (or more) bedrooms. This would not have applied if you had Management Transfer status.
You can read more in our section on:
• Transfers and exchanges
However, under new legislation, a tenant can no longer lose WSP if they move to another social sector house which has the same number (or more) bedrooms.
This legislation came into effect on the 10th February 2022.
If you had previously lost WSP
If you had previously lost Welfare Supplementary Payments, but are still subject to Social Sector Size Criteria (Bedroom Tax) deductions, you will now be entitled to WSP once again.
Your entitlement to WSP will be re-instated from 10th February 2022. You do not have to apply and the Housing Executive will work with the Department for Communities to calculate the amount to be paid.
If you lost your entitlement to WSP before the 10th February 2022, your WSP will not be backdated earlier than the 10th February 2022.
If you are paid too much?
If you are paid too much Welfare Supplementary Payment, this is called an overpayment. The Department for Communities will take back any money that has been overpaid.
It is important that you tell us if there has been any changes to your household, as this may change the amount of Welfare Supplementary Payment you receive.
For more information, please visit: What to do if your circumstances change
How long will the Mitigation scheme last?
The Mitigation Scheme was introduced in 2016 for a 4-year period ending on the 31st March 2020.
The New Decade, New Approach Deal included a commitment to extend the mitigation scheme beyond March 2020.
On the 8th February 2022, the Northern Ireland Executive approved an extension to the scheme. This now means the payment of mitigations will now continue indefinitely.
Social Sector Size Criteria if you move to Universal Credit
If you make a claim for Universal Credit the same rules apply for Social Sector Size Criteria.
If you received a Welfare Supplementary Payment when you were receiving Housing Benefit and then move to Universal Credit, you will continue to get the payment.
Although there may be a delay before it re-appears on your rent/rates statement.
The information in this section is for general advice only.
Contact your local Housing Benefit office if you have any queries.
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