Overview

You may be able to get Housing Benefit if you’re on a low income and need financial help to pay all or part of your rent.

You could qualify whether you’re working or not.

You may also be able to get your Housing Benefit extended for up to 4 weeks if you start a new job, or your wages or working hours increase.

What you'll get

Housing Benefit is worked out differently depending on your circumstances.

If you live in council accommodation or other social housing

The most Housing Benefit you can get is the same as your ‘eligible’ rent, which includes:

  • rent for your accommodation
  • charges for some services, eg lift maintenance, communal laundry facilities or play areas

Even if it’s included in your rent, you won’t get any Housing Benefit for:

  • charges for heating, water, lighting or cooking
  • payments for food or fuel in board and lodgings or hostels

Your circumstances

Your local council will also look at your personal and financial circumstances when they work out your Housing Benefit. They’ll look at:

  • money you and your spouse or partner have coming in, including earnings, some benefits and tax credits, and occupational pensions
  • your savings (and your spouse or partner’s savings)
  • your circumstances - eg your age, your family and their ages, whether you or any of your family are disabled, and whether anyone who lives with you could help with the rent

Your home and rent

Your council will also take into account your home and the rent you pay. They’ll look at whether:

  • the amount of rent is reasonable for your particular home and the area where you live
  • your home is a reasonable size for you and your family

Your ‘eligible rent’ might be limited to an amount that’s reasonable for a suitable property where you live.

If you rent from a private landlord

The amount of Housing Benefit you get will be calculated using the Local Housing Allowance rates.

It will depend on where you live and who lives with you.

Local Housing Allowance rates are set for different types of accommodation in each area. The rates range from a single room in a shared house, up to properties with 4 bedrooms.

Local Housing Allowance limits

There are limits to the amount of Local Housing Allowance that can be paid:

  • £250 a week for a 1 bedroom property (including shared accommodation)
  • £290 a week for a 2 bedroom property
  • £340 a week for a 3 bedroom property
  • £400 a week for a 4 bedroom property

You can find the Local Housing Allowance rates for where you live online.

If you’ve been getting Housing Benefit since before 7 April 2008, the Local Housing Allowance rules will only apply to you if you:

  • change address
  • have a break in your claim for Housing Benefit

How Housing Benefit is paid

If you’re a council tenant, your local council will pay any Housing Benefit straight into your rent account.

If you’re renting privately, your Housing Benefit will be paid:

  • directly into your bank or building society account
  • to you by cheque, in some circumstances

Eligibility

You may get Housing Benefit if:

  • you pay rent
  • your income, savings and investments are below a certain level - usually £16,000, unless you’re getting the ‘guarantee credit’ of Pension Credit

It doesn’t matter whether you’re working or not.

If your household income, pension and any savings are more than £6,000, this may affect how much money you get.

You can get more information on eligibility from your local council.

Who isn’t eligible

You can’t usually get Housing Benefit if:

  • you have savings of over £16,000, unless you’re getting the ‘guarantee credit’ of Pension Credit
  • you live in the home of a close relative
  • you’re a full-time student (unless you’re disabled or have children)
  • you’re an asylum seeker or are sponsored to be in the UK

Other Housing Benefit rules

If you live with a partner, only one of you can get Housing Benefit.

If you’re single and aged under 35, you can only get Housing Benefit for:

  • bed-sit accommodation
  • a single room in shared accommodation

How to claim

If you’re claiming other benefits

Contact Jobcentre Plus to claim Housing Benefit with your claim for the following benefits:

Jobcentre Plus
Telephone: 0800 055 6688
Textphone: 0800 023 4888
Opening hours: Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Jobcentre Plus will send details of your claim for Housing Benefit to your local council.

If you’re claiming Pension Credit

Contact the Pensions Service to claim Housing Benefit with your claim for Pension Credit.

Pensions Service
Telephone: 0800 99 1234
Textphone: 0800 169 0133
Opening hours: Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm and Saturday, 9am to 1pm

The Pensions Service will send details of your claims for Housing Benefit to your local council.

If you’re not claiming other benefits

You can make a claim for Housing Benefit directly with your local council.

You can also download a claim form (HCTB1). The form comes with notes that help you fill it in and tell you where to send it.

Claiming in advance

You can claim Housing Benefit up to 13 weeks before you move (17 weeks if you’re aged 60 or over). So if you know you’re moving to a new address soon, you can make your claim in advance. You won’t usually get any money before you move in.

You might also be able to get your claim backdated - your local council will be able to advise you.