Social Sector Size Criteria-Bedroom Tax

If you rent your home from the Housing Executive or a housing association, and you are of working age, the rent used to calculate your Housing Benefit 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

Please note:

The rules relating to the ages of children sharing are different under the Housing Selection Scheme

If you are State Pension Credit age or older your claim for Housing Benefit is not affected by Social Sector Size Criteria.

If you have more bedrooms than you need

If there are more bedrooms in your home than you need, the rent we use to work out your Housing Benefit will be reduced by;

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


You will not be affected by Social Sector Size Criteria 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

Financial help / Welfare Supplementary Payment

If your Housing Benefit 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 the account getting your payments for your housing costs.

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 and you do not have ‘Management Transfer’ status.

Get advice before you consider any move.  Have a detailed chat with your landlord (Housing Executive / housing association) about your options before you move.  Once this Welfare Supplementary Payment is lost, it is lost for good.

Social Sector Size Criteria if you move to Universal Credit

If you make a claim for Universal Credit the same rules for Social Sector Size Criteria will apply.  If you received the mitigation payment (Welfare Supplementary Payment) this should continue but you may find there is a delay before it re-appears on your Housing Costs (rent / rates) statement.  The Welfare Supplementary Payment scheme is in place until 31 March 2020.

Advice disclaimer

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

Former house owners
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