The Removal of the Spare Room Subsidy (RSRS) policy has helped to contain growing housing support expenditure, encourage mobility within the social rented sector, strengthen work-incentives and make better use of available social housing. There are currently no plans to change this policy. It would not be practical to make such temporary adjustments to the size criteria, which require regulatory changes, to reflect self-isolation or shielding when the household, property and rental costs have not changed.
Previously, Housing Benefit claimants who live in the social rented sector generally had their rents met in full and their entitlement was not affected by whether or not they under occupied their homes. However, this was no longer considered sustainable and from April 2013 Housing Benefit for working-age tenants in the social rented sector has been restricted. These restrictions apply where people live in a property that is too large for their needs.
As with all spending decisions difficult choices have to be made about priorities and where to focus additional resources. Those unable to meet a shortfall in their rent can seek assistance via the Discretionary Housing Payment (DHPs) scheme. DHPs can be paid to those in receipt of Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit who face a shortfall in meeting their rental housing costs.
In addition, we have just announced an extra £40 million for DHPs in 2020/21 in England and Wales.