Social Sector Size Criteria

The Social Sector Size Criteria (SSSC) determines the amount of Housing Benefit you will receive based on the number of people in your household and the number of bedrooms in your home.

The SSSC will apply to you if you:

  • rent your property from the council or a social landlord eg housing association,
  • have more bedrooms in your property than you need, and
  • are of working age (people over 16 and under state pension age)


If you are in a couple your eligibility for means-tested benefits is determined by the age of the youngest person. This means that couples in which one person is under the state pension age can be affected by the SSSC.

How many bedrooms can I have?

The size criteria below details how many bedrooms you are entitled to according to the number of people in the household (including joint tenants).

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 under 16
  • any two children aged under 10
  • any other child (other than a foster 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.
  • an adult dependant who is on operations with the armed forces who intends to return to the property
  • for registered foster parents who have a foster child/children living in the property or for a maximum of 52 weeks for periods between foster children

How will you be affected?

If you have more rooms than the SSSC allows, the rent used to work out your Housing Benefit is reduced  by:

  • 14% if you under occupy your property by one bedroom
  • 25% if you under occupy your property by two or more bedrooms

Who is not affected?

You will not be affected by the SSSC if you fall into one of the circumstances below:

  • you have reached state pension age, unless you have a partner who is under state pension age
  • you part rent and part own your property (Shared Ownership)
  • you live on a houseboat and pay rent including mooring charges or you pay rent and site charges for caravans and mobile homes
  • you live in temporary accommodation and were accepted as homeless under the homelessness legislation of the Housing Act 1996
  • you live in accommodation that has been provided by a housing association, registered charity or voluntary organisation where that body or a person acting on its behalf also provides you with care, support or supervision

Changes in your household

Any change in your household could determine whether you are affected by the SSSC. You will need to report the following changes:

  • a person who has joined or left the household (you should include relevant dates)
  • any details of other people living with you but not as part of your household (Joint tenants or boarders)
  • any family members living as a couple (for example son and daughter in law)
  • the birth of a child

To report a change please use the change of circumstances form.

What can I do if I under occupy my home?

If you are a council tenant in a property larger than your needs, we may be able to assist you to move to a smaller property either through a transfer or mutual exchange. If you wish to discuss this you should contact the housing options team.
If you are a Housing Association tenant you should contact your landlord to discuss your options. You can also consider applying for a Discretionary Housing Payment.