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.

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.

Find your council's website on mygov.scot

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

If you rent privately or you have a mid-market rent, your benefits are worked out differently. Check our advice on Local Housing Allowance.

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 either:

  • a couple

  • both under 10

  • both 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

Example

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 any of these apply:

  • 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 any of these apply:

  • 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

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England