Manchester City Council

Benefits & support How your circumstances affect Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support

The number of bedrooms you need

Your Housing Benefit could be reduced if you live in council or social housing and you have a spare bedroom. But this does NOT apply if you or your partner have reached the qualifying age for state pension credit.

The government sets the rules on what counts as a 'spare' bedroom.

The reduction is:

  • 14 per cent of the ‘eligible' rent (the amount of rent we use to work out your benefit) for one spare bedroom
  • 25 per cent of the ‘eligible' rent for two or more spare bedrooms.

The 'spare bedroom' rules

The rules say these people are expected to share a bedroom:

  • an adult couple
  • two children under 16 of the same sex

  • two children under 10 of either sex

But these people can have a room of their own:

  • a single adult (16 or over)

  • a child who would normally have to share, but shared bedrooms are already taken - for example a third child where two already share

  • a child who can’t share because of a disability or medical condition

  • a foster child of any age (but only one room, even if there is more than one foster child).

A room does not count as a spare room if it is:
  • used by a non-resident overnight carer for you, your partner, a joint-tenant or their partner - but only if the carer must stay overnight
  • for a student studying away from home, or a member of the armed or reserve forces away on operations, if they intend to return home
  • ready for a foster child of an approved foster carer who does not have a child placed with them at the time - as long as it's within 52 weeks of their last placement, or they are newly-approved.  

Example

Your rent is £100 per week, and your income and circumstances entitle you to £60 a week Housing Benefit (so you have to pay £40 yourself).

But you only get the £60 if, following the rules above, you need all your bedrooms.

If you have one spare bedroom, the Housing Benefit is reduced by 14 per cent. This means your Housing Benefit goes down to £51.60, and you have to pay £48.40.

Working age households only

These rules apply to 'working age' households only. So your Housing Benefit is not reduced for having a spare bedroom if: you or your partner have reached the qualifying age for state pension credit. This is increasing in stages from from 60 to 66.

Use the government's state pension calculator to see if you qualify: www.gov.uk/calculate-state-pension. Look at the date you may be entitled to pension credit, not the date you reach State Pension age.

Other exceptions

The rules do not apply if:

  • your home is part of a shared-ownership scheme
  • we have placed you in temporary accommodation for homeless people
  • you live in certain types of supported or sheltered accommodation.

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