Sunday 31 May 2020

The Social Sector Size Criteria

What is it?

As of April 2013 housing benefit recipients in the social sector will receive housing benefit payments based on their household size. Although it is down to the landlord to accurately describe a property and the rent charged. Those who are deemed to be under occupying will see a reduction in their housing benefit. If a recipient is found to be under occupying their home by one bedroom then they will see a 14% reduction in their housing benefit. If a recipient is found to be under occupying by two or more rooms then their housing benefit will be reduced by 25%.  Each person or couple will be entitled to a room with some exemptions.


  • Children under the age of 16 of the same gender are expected to share.
  • Regardless of gender children under ten are expected to share.
  • An extra room will be provided for a disabled person who requires a non-residential carer.

Children with a severe disability can claim for an extra room.  It is down to the discretion of the local authority to decide as to whether it is inappropriate for a child with a disability to share a room.

The Impact

Impact on Citizens

Impact on Councils

  • Figures suggest there are 17,872 cases affected by the under-occupancy criteria in the East Midlands in council owned stock (over half from the major urban areas): 14,599 with one spare bedroom and 3,273 with two or more spare rooms.  Further detail in Figure 10.3.


  • At present there is little evidence to suggest that people are moving as a result of under-occupancy.   


  • Council figures from across the East Midlands (Figures 10.4 & 10.5) suggest a rise in the level of rent arrears during 2013.  However this data is incomplete and there no evidence of a direct link with under-occupancy.


  • Some councils have reported a sharp increase in applications for Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) since April 2013 (see below).


  • Some councils have considered re-classifying smaller bedrooms as other accommodation to reduce the impact on tenants.     


  • There is increased pressure on a limited amount of smaller sized social housing stock. 


  • There will be an increased need for councils to address the under-supply of affordable housing.