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Housing Benefit Size Criteria and The Benefit 'CAP'

A size criteria applies in the social rented sector (e.g. council and housing association properties) which means that people living in houses that are larger than they need (under-occupiers) will have to move to somewhere smaller or make up the difference in rent, because their Housing Benefit will be reduced by:

  • 14 % of the rent charged if you under-occupy by one bedroom
  • 25% of the rent charged if you under-occupy by two or more bedrooms

This rule only applies to 'working-age' people. The size criteria is as follows:-

  • 1 bedroom for each adult or adult couple, plus
  • 1 bedroom for every 2 children under the age of 10 (regardless of gender)
  • 1 bedroom for every 2 children under the age of 16 if they are the same gender
  • 1 bedroom for any other child
  • 1 bedroom for a non-resident carer if providing care for the tenant, their partner, non-dependant adult or child
  • 1 bedroom for a disabled child under 16, or a couple, who are unable to share a bedroom overnight because of their disability
  • 1 bedroom for a foster child (only 1 bedroom is allowed regardless of the number or sex of the children)

The Benefit Cap

A limit is put on the total amount of benefit that most people of working age. This is called the Benefit Cap. 

If you're affected by the Cap, your Housing Benefit will go down to make sure that the total amount of benefit you get isn't more than the cap level. If you're already getting benefits and could be affected by the cap you'll be contacted by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) who will let you know what will happen to your benefits. If you're already seeing a Job Centre Plus adviser, they will continue to help you look for work and get the skills you may need for a job.

The cap will apply to the total amount that the people in your household get from the following benefits:-

The level of the cap for those living outside a Greater London Borough is currently:

  • £423.46 per week (£22,020 a year) if you're in a couple, whether your children live with you or not
  • £423.46 per week (£22,020 a year) if you're single and your children live with you
  • £283.71 per week (£14,753 a year) if you're single and you don't have children, or your children don't live with you

 You won't be affected by the benefit cap if you qualify for Working Tax Credit or if you get any of the following benefits:

  • Attendance Allowance
  • Carer's Allowance / Carer Element of Universal Credit
  • Disability Living Allowance / Personal Independence Payment 
  • Employment and Support Allowance, if you get the support component
  • Guardians Allowance
  • Industrial Injuries Benefits (and equivalent payments as part of a war disablement pension or the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme)
  • Limited Capability for Work Element of Universal Credit
  • War Widow's or War Widower's Pension

How claimants can find out more:

  • find out more information and use an online calculator to see how your benefit may be affected or visit
  • find out more about the benefits you may be able to claim, or the benefits which exempt you from the Cap.
  • call the helpline to find out general information about the Cap on the numbers below.

Benefit cap helpline Telephone: On benefits? 0800 169 0145; Textphone: 0800 169 0314. On UC? Contact DWP via your UC online account

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