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Impact of the under-occupation deduction from Housing Benefit (social rented housing)

Published Friday, February 19, 2016

This House of Commons Briefing Paper summarises some key findings arising from research into the impact of the under-occupation deduction from Housing Benefit (also referred to as the 'Removal of the Spare Room Subsidy' or 'bedroom tax').

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The Government used powers contained in the Welfare Reform Act 2012 to provide that, since 1 April 2013, working-age social tenants in receipt of Housing Benefit experience a reduction in their benefit entitlement if they live in housing that is deemed to be too large for their needs. This measure is referred to as the Removal of the Spare Room Subsidy (RSRS) and also the “bedroom tax.”

Detailed information on the application of the under-occupation deduction, e.g. what constitutes a bedroom and who is affected, can be found in Library Briefing Paper 06272, Under-occupation of social housing: Housing Benefit entitlement.

At the end of November 2015 442,933 claimants in Great Britain were affected by the measure compared to 547,000 in May 2013.

After the introduction of the measure a number of bodies began to monitor its impact and publish their research findings. In December 2015 the DWP published an Evaluation of Removal of the Spare Room Subsidy: final report the research for which was undertaken over 20 months up to November 2014 by Ipsos MORI and the Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research. The project was tasked with the evaluation of:

  • The preparation, delivery and implementation of the policy changes by local authorities (LAs) and social landlords.
  • The extent of increased mobility within the social housing sector leading to more effective use of the housing stock.
  • The extent to which as a result of the RSRS more people are in work, working increased hours or earning increased incomes.
  • The effects of the RSRS on, and responses to it of:
    • Housing Benefit (HB) claimants
    • Social landlords
    • LAs
    • Voluntary and statutory organisations and advice services
    • Funders lending to social landlords.

This paper considers the findings of the DWP’s evaluation and other research into the impact of the under-occupation deduction.








Commons Briefing papers SN06896

Authors: Wendy Wilson; Richard Keen

Topics: Housing, Housing benefits, Social rented housing, Working age benefits

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