Housing Benefit is being replaced by Universal Credit (UC) meaning most people can’t make a new claim for it. If you don’t qualify for Housing Benefit, check if you can claim UC instead. Take a look at our post on Universal Credit for more information or go to gov.uk.
Housing Benefit can help you pay your rent if you’re on a low income, unemployed or you claim benefits. However, if your Housing Benefit doesn’t quite cover your rent, you can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) through your local council.
If you need assistance, guidance or advice when applying for Housing benefit, if you’re not sure if you’re eligible or having issues with your claim, we recommend you contact a professional adviser for further information. London Advice Centre is always ready to help. Call 020 3092 8211 for more details.
You can only apply for a new claim if you’re over state Pension Age – check your State Pension Age here or if you’re in supported, sheltered or temporary housing.
One of the following must apply:
- You’re over State Pension age (if you’re single)
- If you and your partner are over State Pension age
- If you (or your partner) are over State Pension age and has been claiming Pension Credit since 15 May 2019
- You are in supported, temporary or sheltered housing
This can include arrange temporary accommodation form your local council, you live in a refuge, you live in supported housing that provides a level of care for you.
These also apply:
- Less than £16,000 in savings (unless you receive Guarantee Credit of Pension Credit)
- Be renting where you currently live
- Have a low income or are receiving other benefit payments
- Be habitually resident in the UK
Housing Benefit is paid by your local council. There is no fixed rate as it has multiple determining factors. The benefit cap applies to this benefit meaning that it will decrease to ensure you do not exceed your total entitlement/cap level (if you are receiving other benefit payments).
‘Eligible rent’ is the amount used to work out how much Housing Benefit you are entitled to; this is your full rent plus any service charges or maintenance fees you have to pay to live there. Housing Benefit does not cover the costs of bills (such as heating, electricity or water).
If you privately rent it will be paid into an account (bank/building society) where ‘eligible rent’ is determined by your Local Housing Allowance (LHA); this is decided by your local council based on where you live and with how many people. Your age and circumstances (whether your disabled) will also be a factor in how much you receive. You’ll be paid LHA or your full eligible rent, whichever is lower.
Council or Social Housing Rent
If you are a council or social housing tenant it will be paid into your rent account (you do not directly receive the money) and determined by how much your household income is, you’re ‘eligible rent’, if you have a spare room and the circumstances of those living in the house (e.g., if someone has a disability).
Spare rooms are determined by how what the government has deemed as spare. For example, is it assumed adult couples will share a bedroom, as will any children under the age of 10 and same sex siblings under the age of 16. Exclusions apply, such as having 3 children and 2 already share a bedroom, student bedrooms (who plan on returning), and rooms for those who cannot share (a disabled child, or overnight carer). Your eligible rent could be reduced by 14% for 1 spare room and 25% for 2, this would mean your benefit payment would also decrease.
How to Claim
You apply through your local council website but they’ll be able to provide you with alternatives application methods if you need any extra help with the process.
You can also make the claim as part of your Pension Credit application.
If you live with your partner only one person needs to claim for it; the form will cover both of your details and your total income will be taken into account. Tip: if one of you is claiming Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) its best for the other person to claim Housing Benefit to ensure you get the most you’re entitled to.
The claim can be backdated by up to 13 weeks (17 if you’re aged 60 or older).
Ensure you always report a change of circumstances to your local council straight away; your payments could be reduced or stopped altogether if you fail to do so. This applies to all benefits you receive.
Please note: this post was written in line with guidance at the time of publishing. For the most up-to-date guidelines please refer to gov.uk