What is the Bedroom Tax?

It is a newly introduced welfare reform which is set to see tenants both working and unemployed under housing benefits pay for privileges which the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) deem as an unoccupied bedroom.

Under the new coalition government the welfare system in the UK is undergoing radical changes which are set to commence in April this year with the arrival of the universal credit, a policy which, according to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) aims to encourage families to become more independent through the replacement of traditional benefit programmes. Among these reform changes is the ‘Under occupancy sanction’ but it’s more familiar term would be the Bedroom Tax.

How does this affect you?

The biggest cause for contention on the taxation is the realisation that many tenants unknowingly maintain an extra bedroom, which is considered unnecessary by the government.

In accordance to the set of rules found in the Bedroom Standard, the government have highlighted the terms and conditions of the sharing requirements in terms of gender and age;

  • Children under the age of 16 of the same gender are expected to share.
  • Children under 10 years of age are expected to share regardless of their gender.

If these rules are not adhered to, residents will face a cut to their weekly benefits, although the size of this cut will depend on the quantity of unoccupied bedrooms and the price of the property rental. This means the more expensive the rental price the bigger the taxation which creates a regional variation in the percentage of social housing tenants affected.

Across Great Britain, the DWP estimates that approximately 31% of working age housing benefit claimants living in the social rented sector are likely to be affected by the measure.

With 10,000 council tenants estimated to be affected in Birmingham and a further 5,000 tenants from registered landlords, the West Midlands will make up 9% of Great Britain’s affected claimants. Taking into account carers, children, spouses etc. it is estimated that around 60,000 people will be affected in total.


Information taken from the Equality Impact Assessment by the DWP.  

How much will you be taxed?

The occupation of one single bedroom means that 14% of housing benefits will be deducted and this will increase to 25% for two or more extra bedrooms.  However, this cut is a percentage of the rate which means the higher the rental price the bigger the cut, although the average loss is set to be £14 a week according to the government’s impact assessment.

The taxation will have a number of repercussions on different social groups within society affecting a variety of people with different circumstances. The National Housing Federation have outlined the individuals who will be affected allowing exemptions to a minority in a strict exemption policy.

As one of the highest regions estimated to be affected by the taxation, we intend to specifically look into how Birmingham is been affected by the bedroom tax whilst understanding more about Britain’s most controversial welfare reform.