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What is Bedroom Tax? And do I have to pay it?

Posted by formed on 27 February 2019

First introduced on 1st April 2013 under the Welfare Reform Act of 2012, the government removed the spare room subsidy and started basing Housing Benefit on the number of people in a household and the size of accommodation. This meant over 660,000 households lost an average of £14 a week when the tax was introduced.


This policy was introduced with the intention of encouraging council tenants living in houses larger than they needed, to move into smaller, more manageable properties. This was in response to the ever increasing housing crisis, in which families couldn’t find a suitable place to live, so in theory, the bedroom tax would free larger homes for larger families.


There has been attempts to repeal the act by the Labour government in 2015, after concerns that it predominantly affected disabled people and would force families to move into more expensive areas.


How many bedrooms are allowed by the government?


One bedroom is allowed for each of the following:

  • An adult couple.
  • A member of a couple who has to have their own bedroom due to disability.
  • A single person over the age of 16.
  • Disabled child under the age of 16 who can’t share a room due to disability.
  • Two children of the same sex under the age of 16.
  • Two children of either sex under the age of 10.


Those affected are tenants of social housing claiming housing benefit. Those of working age, and who have more bedrooms than is allowed according to the regulation, the bedroom tax applies. There are a number of reasons that may exempt you from the bedroom tax, which are in place to protect the most vulnerable of society. For example:

  • If you are keeping a room for someone serving in the armed forces, for them to use whilst they are on leave.
  • For pensioners, the bedroom tax won’t be applicable.
  • If the spare bedroom is brought about by death, then the bedroom tax will not apply until a year later
  • Temporary accommodation, mobile homes, and houseboats are exempt.


Although the bedroom tax was implemented with the clear intention to move people who didn’t need a larger house into smaller ones, a BBC investigation revealed that only 6% of those affected by the bedroom tax actually moved into a smaller home. This perhaps proves there are other ways to deal with the housing crisis in the UK.


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