Social Sector Size Criteria-Bedroom Tax

Social Sector Size Criteria/Bedroom Tax

If you are of working age (between 16 years and State Pension Credit age) and you rent your home from us, the rent used to calculate your Housing Benefit / Universal Credit award is based on the number of bedrooms you and your household need; not the number of bedrooms in the property.

Bedrooms allowed

You are allowed one bedroom for:

  • every 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, the rent used to work out your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit will be reduced by:

  • 14% if you have 1 extra bedroom; or
  • 25% if you have 2 or more extra bedrooms.

If you, or your partner, are State Pension Credit age or older you are not affected by Social Sector Size Criteria.

Financial help / Welfare Supplementary Payment

If your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit (housing costs) is reduced because of Social Sector Size Criteria you may receive a mitigation payment known as Welfare Supplementary Payment.  This payment scheme is in place until 31 March 2020.

You do not need to apply for this financial help (mitigation) as the Housing Executive will work with the Department for Communities to calculate the amount to be paid.  This will then be paid by the Department for Communities, in arrears, directly to your housing costs (rent/rates) account and be indicated on your quarterly statement.

Can I lose Welfare Supplementary Payment (mitigation)?

This financial help can be lost if you decide to move to another social sector house which has the same number of, or more, bedrooms. Get advice from your Housing Executive Patch Manager when considering any move.  Once this Welfare Supplementary Payment is lost, it is lost for good.

Help paying a shortfall in housing costs

If you are not able to pay any shortfall in the amount you must pay for your rent and rates (housing costs) then find out if you could qualify for more help. Please note Discretionary Housing Payment is not available if you lose Welfare Supplementary Payment for Social Sector Size Criteria.

Who is not affected by Social Sector Size Criteria

You will not be affected if:

  • you, or your partner, are State Pension Credit age
  • you live in supported exempt accommodation
  • you live in temporary accommodation
  • you live in a co-ownership property
  • you live in a houseboat, caravan or mobile home

Advice disclaimer

The information in this section is for general advice only.  We recommend that you contact your local Housing Benefit or Housing Executive office if you have queries.


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