Here we explain how it works, who is eligible, how it applies to Universal Credit, and how you can claim for it.
What is housing benefit?
Housing benefit is an amount of money paid out to help with the cost of paying rent for those on a low income.
There is no set amount available and the money, which is paid every two weeks, is calculated by your local council and is based on a number of different factors.
It is usually paid to those already receiving other benefits, such as income support or jobseeker’s allowance, but even those not receiving other benefits, but on low incomes, may be able to apply.
If you rent your home from a council, the money is paid directly to the council and how much you receive depends on a number of factors.
These include; the rent you pay, if you have a spare room, your income including benefits, pension and savings, and your personal circumstances, such as if someone in the house has a disability.
Renters who have a spare bedroom may see their housing benefit reduced.
This is calculated in the following way; a 14 per cent reduction for one spare bedroom, a 25 per cent reduction for two or more spare bedrooms.
In some circumstances, people are expected to share a bedroom including, an adult couple, two children under the age of 16 of the same sex, and two children under the age of 10 regardless of sex.
How much money you receive if you rent privately is worked out in a different way.
It is calculated by using the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) and paid directly into your bank account.
The amount you get is based on; where you live, the size of the house, the number of people who live there, your income including pensions, benefits and savings, and your personal circumstances.
If you have a one-bedroom property, you could get up to £268.46 per week, for two-bedrooms it’s up to £311.40, for three bedrooms it’s up to £365.09 and if you have four bedrooms you could receive up to £429.53.
If you're single and under 35, you can only get housing benefit for a bed-sit or a single room in shared accommodation.
Are you eligible for housing benefit?
You may be able to claim for housing benefit if you pay rent, you’re on a low income, you’re claiming benefits, or your savings are below £16,000.
If any of the following apply you won’t be able to claim for housing benefit:
- Your savings are over £16,000 – unless you get the guaranteed credit element of pension credit
- You live in the home of a close relative
- You own your own home
- You are a full-time student – unless you’re disabled or have children
- You are a European Economic Area jobseeker
- You are an asylum seeker or sponsored to be in the UK
- You are subject to immigration control and your granted leave states that you cannot claim public funds
Can you get housing benefit and Universal Credit?
Universal Credit is replacing housing benefit, so you can’t claim both at the same time.
If you are in an area of full-service Universal Credit, you will receive housing benefit through your Universal Credit payment.
If Universal Credit isn’t available in your area yet, you can continue to get housing benefit.
To check if your area has full service Universal Credit, check the updated list on the Government’s website.
Universal Credit replaces a number of benefits, including jobseeker’s allowance and income-related employment support allowance.
It is being rolled-out across the country and more than 60 areas started a full service last month.
The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) will contact you when it’s time to move to Universal Credit payments.
When this happens your housing benefit payments will carry on for two weeks after you claim for Universal Credit, which is paid once a month, to make sure you are not left short.
With Universal Credit, the housing benefit is paid directly into your bank account, instead of to the council for social tenants.
There is also a change when it comes to additional people living in a home.
For each non-dependant person living in the house, a reduction is made of £72.16 per month, which is called a ‘housing costs contribution’.
But in some cases this won’t need to be applied, such as if one of the people claiming the benefit is registered as blind or receiving the care component of disability living allowance.
How do you apply for housing benefit?
In order to claim for housing benefit, either the traditional benefit or through Universal Credit, you will need the following information:
- How much rent you pay
- Whether anything else is included in the rent, such as water, gas or electricity charges
- If you pay any service charges, including building maintenance or insurance
- Your landlord or agent’s details
- Two forms of identity
If you are making a claim just for housing benefit, you can do this through your local council.
All of these details are listed on the Government’s website.
If you’re applying for other benefits at the same time, such as employment and support allowance, income support or jobseeker’s allowance, you will need to apply through your local Jobcentre Plus office.
It will then send the details of your housing benefit claim to your local council.
You can contact Jobcentre Plus on 0800 023 4888 between Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.
If you’re applying for Universal Credit you can do this online at the Government’s website.
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