Benefit changes

The Government has made a number of changes to the rules and regulations affecting housing benefit in recent years, with further changes planned for the future.  This page describes the main changes and advises residents where they can get help with managing their money or finding work (or better paid work).

Social sector size criteria

From 1 April 2013 the Government applied a size criteria for social housing.

This size criteria rule means that working age customers who have more bedrooms in their property than they need have had their housing benefit reduced.

It affects customers whose landlord is either Paragon Asra Housing or any other registered social landlord.

How is it calculated?

It is calculated according to the number of people in your property.

The new rules allow one bedroom for:

  • every adult couple (married or unmarried)

  • any other adult aged 16 or over any two children of the same sex aged under 16

  • any two children aged under 10

  • any other child (other than a foster child or child whose main home is elsewhere)

  • a carer (or team of carers) who do not live with you but provide you or your partner with overnight care

You can use our calculator to check the number of bedrooms you are entitled to.

There is no upper limit on the number of bedrooms calculated.

Nobody living in bedsits or 1 bedroom properties are affected.

How much will Housing Benefit be reduced by?

If you have more rooms than the Social Sector Size Criteria allows the eligible rent used in your Housing Benefit calculation is reduced by:

  • 14% if you have 1 extra bedroom

  • 25% if you have 2 or more extra bedrooms

If your eligible rent is reduced because you are under occupying your property you should contact your housing provider (landlord) to discuss the options available to you.

Family Premium removal

From 1 May 2016, families making a new claim for Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Support will not have their award calculated with a Family Premium allowance. This does not affect the family's current claim unless they have a break in their claim. This was announced as part of the Autumn Statement welfare reform changes.

Absence from home

From 28 July 2016, if a Housing Benefit claimant is absent from home outside of Great Britain for more than 4 weeks, then their entitlement ends. There are exceptions to this period of time. Please contact us for more information if you think this will affect your claim.


From 1 April 2016, the maximum backdate period for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support is 1 month from the date of claim for working age claimants.  The maximum backdate period for claimants of pensionable age remains  at 3 months for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support.

Two child restriction

From 6 April 2017, the child addition which forms part of the Housing Benefit calculation will be limited to 2 children. This means that if you already have 2 or more children you will not be entitled to a child addition for any subsequent children born on or after 6 April 2017 when calculating your Housing Benefit. You can still receive a child addition for more than 2 children if the child was born before 6 April 2017.

Single and aged under 35 and on a low income?

From 1 April 2018, the way that Housing Benefit is calculated will be changing.  If you have been granted a social housing tenancy by a housing association on or after 1 April 2016, the amount of Housing Benefit that you may receive from 1 April 2018 could be reduced.  If in 2018, you will be under 35 years old, single and will not have any dependent children living with you, your eligible rent (in terms of the maximum Housing Benefit you will be entitled to) will be capped at the shared accommodation rate.  The shared accommodation rate in Elmbridge is currently about £84 per week and it will apply even if you do not share your home with anybody else. If this change will affect you and will lead to a gap between what your rent is and how much help with housing costs you receive, you will need take steps to close the gap and make sure that your rent is paid.  One way of doing this is by taking steps to increase your income, for example by finding work or better paid work.
However, this may not apply if you are disabled and in receipt of certain disability benefits.

Where can I go for help and advice?

For information on where to get with managing your money, housing advice or help with training and employment, please visit our housing advice and support pages.

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