How the bedroom tax affects your benefits
If you rent from the council or housing association and you have spare bedrooms, your benefits can be reduced. This is called the under-occupancy charge or the bedroom tax.
If you're affected by the bedroom tax in Scotland, you can get Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) to cover the difference.
Getting Discretionary Housing Payment
You apply through your local council. Find your council's website on mygov.scot.
The Scottish Government has promised that everyone affected by the bedroom tax will get DHP. Tell the council that your benefits are reduced because of under-occupancy charges.
After you apply
The council should tell you:
how much you'll get
how often it will be paid
how long it will be paid for
You’ll usually get DHP for a set number of months, and after that you’ll have to apply again. The council will not automatically renew your payments or remind you.
Put a reminder in your calendar to re-apply so that you keep getting the payments. If you’re not sure when you need to re-apply, ask the council.
Who is affected by the bedroom tax
You might be affected if:
you rent from the council or housing association
you get Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit
you're classed as having a spare bedroom
How many bedrooms you can have
In your household, each single person aged 16 or over can have their own bedroom. Two people are expected to share when they’re:
under 16 and the same sex
Based on these rules, if your home has extra bedrooms, your Housing Benefit or the housing element of your Universal Credit will be reduced by:
14% if you have 1 spare bedroom
25% if you have 2 or more spare bedrooms
If you live with your partner and 2 daughters under 16, you’re entitled to claim benefits for a 2-bedroom home.
If you live in a 3-bedroom home, the housing costs part of your benefits will be reduced by 14%. You’ll need to apply for DHP to cover the 14% reduction.
Who is exempt from the bedroom tax
Your benefits should not be reduced for extra bedrooms if:
you’re State Pension age and do not live with a partner
you and your partner are both State Pension age
you live in certain types of temporary, supported or sheltered housing
you’re an approved foster carer, and you’ve fostered a child or become an approved carer in the past 12 months
someone is away from home temporarily, but they're going to return
If someone in your household is disabled
You could be entitled to an extra bedroom if:
you or someone you live with needs a carer to stay overnight regularly
your child cannot share a room because of their disability
someone in a couple cannot share a room because of their disability
You might need to be claiming certain disability-related benefits to qualify.
To check you're getting the right benefits, contact an advice service like Disability Information Scotland or Citizens Advice. They can also help you prove to the council that you need an extra bedroom.
Challenging a bedroom tax decision
If you think the bedroom tax has been wrongly applied to you, follow Citizens Advice guidance on challenging a benefits decision:
Last updated: 4 October 2022