Orkney Islands Council
Working together for a better Orkney

Housing Benefit: under-occupancy reductions

From April 2013, if you rent your home from Orkney Islands Council or Orkney Housing Association Limited and have more bedrooms than you or your household need you will be considered as under-occupying the property.

If you are of working age, the amount of Housing Benefit that you receive will be reduced by:
• 14% if you under-occupy the property by one bedroom;
• 25% if you under-occupy your property by two bedrooms or more.

These reductions in benefit are also often referred to as "spare room subsidy" or "the bedroom tax".

How many bedrooms are you allowed?

The 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 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;
• approved  foster carers, so long as they have fostered a child in the last 12 months.

What to do if your benefits are reduced

If you find that you experience a reduction in Housing Benefit you may consider: taking up employment; increasing your hours; renting out a room to help you make up some of the shortfall between your rent and Housing Benefit; or if you require further financial assistance applying for a Discretionary Housing Payment.  If you do not make up the shortfall you may fall into rent arrears which could result in the risk of eviction.

Discretionary Housing Payments

Discretionary Housing Payments or DHPs are stand-alone payments to help recipients of Housing Benefit who are in need of further assistance with their housing costs. Payments are made at the discretion of the Council and are subject to a total annual limit.  More information relating to Discretionary Housing Payments plus an Application Form is available from Related Links on the left of this webpage.

Additional information

For more detailed information you can download additional documents in Portable Document Format from Related Downloads and Related Sites on the left of this webpage.