Housing Benefit explained

What is Housing Benefit?

It is a national welfare benefit administered by local councils.

Housing Benefit helps people on a low income to pay their rent.

From 24 October 2018 most people below pension age making a new application for help with their rent will claim Universal Credit and not Housing Benefit. Please visit claiming universal credit for more information.

For those already in receipt of Housing Benefit and for those moving in to Supported Accommodation or Temporary Accommodation, it is a national welfare benefit administered by local councils. It helps people on a low income to pay their rent.

Who can claim?

If you are currently claiming Housing Benefit you can continue to do so unless you have a change that results in you claiming Universal Credit.

You can make a new claim for Housing Benefit if you (or your partner) are liable to pay the rent on a Supported Accommodation or Temporary Accommodation tenancy you are occupying as your home, and have less than £16,000 in joint savings, unless you are in receipt of Pension Credit Guarantee Credit.

Other special circumstances apply. If you are not sure if you can claim, please contact us.

How do I apply for Housing Benefit?

See Applying for benefits for more information.

When will my Housing Benefit start and end?

Your Housing Benefit will normally start on the Monday following the first indication of your wish to claim, provided your completed claim form is received within one month of this date.

If you want your benefit to start from an earlier date, you can write and ask us to consider backdating your claim. However, backdated benefit is only awarded in very exceptional circumstances. Benefit cannot be backdated for a period more than one month prior to your request being made.

Your benefit ends when entitlement stops. You will normally be paid up to the Monday following the date your circumstances changed.

How can I find out my maximum Housing Benefit before I move in?

If you are below pension age it is likely you should be claiming Universal Credit (see Applying for benefits). You can visit www.gov.uk/benefits-calculators to find out what you might receive.

If you can still claim Housing Benefit, use our calculator to see what help you might receive.

Is there anything that Housing Benefit will not cover?

If you rent from a private landlord, your maximum Housing Benefit will be the Local Housing Allowance rate.

If you rent from a housing association you may have a reduction for personal services such as water, gas, electric or laundry. This means that you will have to pay those charges yourself.

How is my Housing Benefit worked out and how much will I get?

All councils work out benefit in the same way, using rules set by Government. The amount you get depends on four things:

  • How much income you and your partner (if you have one) have; this includes all income and not just earnings
  • How much money you and your partner (if you have one) have; this could be in bank accounts, shares, ISAs etc. If you have savings of more than £16,000 you will not be able to get benefit unless you receive Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • The money you need to live on. This depends on your personal circumstances (for example, your age and how many children you have) and is set by the government; this is called your applicable amount
  • The amount of rent you pay.

If you are on Income Support, Income-based Job Seeker's Allowance, Income-related Employment Support Allowance or Pension Credit Guarantee Credit you are automatically entitled to receive maximum benefit.

If you are not receiving any of the above benefits, your benefit is calculated by comparing your applicable amount with the amount of money you have coming in each week.

If your income is equal to or less than the applicable amount, then you will get maximum benefit.

If your income is more than the applicable amount then a further calculation is made: we deduct 65% of your excess income from the maximum benefit, and you receive the difference.

How and when will my benefit be paid?

If you are a private tenant, Housing Benefit will normally be paid to you unless you have difficulties managing your finances or paying the benefit to you would put your tenancy at risk. If you rent from a housing association, you can choose whether you or your landlord receives your Housing Benefit.

If it is paid directly to you, your Housing Benefit will be paid directly into your bank every two weeks in arrears.

If it is paid to your landlord, it will be paid into your landlord’s bank every four weeks in arrears.

What is a non-dependant deduction?

A non-dependant is a person who normally lives with you but is not dependent on you. They are usually adult sons, daughters, other relatives or friends.

The Government assumes that the non-dependant should be making a contribution to the household expenses and therefore a deduction is made from your weekly Housing Benefit to take this contribution into account.

The amount of the deduction depends on the non-dependant's age and income.

Housing Benefit decisions

When your claim is processed, or you have a change in circumstances, we make a decision about how much you can receive.

If you think a decision is wrong, please see Disagreeing with a decision for more information.

Where can I find more information about Housing Benefit?

For more information, visit www.gov.uk/housing-benefit.