With a near 40% increase in council tenants already in arrears, Highland Council argues this is necessary because of the absence of the appropriate housing stock to accommodate tenants who wish to move to a smaller house.
There are 86 communities in the Highlands where there is no option of tenants moving to a one-bedroom house.
The council's Finance Housing and Resources Committee was given an update on the Highland impact of Welfare Reform, including the Benefit Gap and the introduction of Universal Credit, which will roll six benefits into one with the aim of simplifying the benefit system and ensuring people are better off in work.
But councillors have been advised that the total number of tenants in arrears in the first quarter of this financial year was 1175, an increase of 451, and that the value of arrears has increased to £269,687, a rise of £96,196.
Councillor Dave Fallows, Chair of Highland's Finance Housing and Resources Committee, said: "The trouble in the Highlands is that we do not have sufficient capacity to accommodate those tenants who wish to downsize to avoid the penalty of losing housing benefit through living in a house with a spare room."
Of the 3000-population exemption, he said: "I will now be writing to our MPs for their support for this concession and also the Minister for Welfare Reform to urge that the Government confirms this as policy."