Housing benefit is money to help people on low incomes pay their rent. The Government makes the rules on who can claim and how much they can get, and we run the scheme for them.
However in most circumstances, if you are working age and need help with your housing costs you must claim this through Universal Credit from the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP).
The amount of housing benefit you can get depends on:
- the type and size of the property you live in
- your rent
- your income - the money you have coming into your home
- your savings
- your personal circumstances, for example, your age and whether you have people living in your home.
How to Apply
You will need to complete an application form to apply for housing benefit, this may be completed for you at Job Centre Plus, through the Pension Service or with your Local Authority. Evidence of your identity, all income, all savings or other capital and your national insurance number must be provided. This information is also required for your partner if you have one. Details of anyone else living in your household are also required.
If all the information in support of your claim is supplied your claim should be processed within 23 days or as soon as possible thereafter. You have one month from the receipt date of your application to supply all documentary evidence requested. If you do not provide supporting evidence, then you may lose benefit.Please see the list of evidence required.
We will discuss your claim with your landlord only if you, the claimant have given authorisation. There is a section on the application form that you would have to sign to authorise this. We will not give your landlord any information about your personal, household or financial circumstances.
It is very important that you continue to pay your Rent and Council Tax. You may receive little or no benefit and if you do not pay you may fall in to arrears.
You can claim Housing Benefit irrespective of whether it is a furnished or unfurnished let.
The Applicable Amount
The 'applicable amount' is the amount the Government says you need to live on each week and it is made up of three parts:
- An amount for you and your partner, if you have one.
- An amount for any dependent children in your family.
- An amount called a premium to help with special needs, for example, if you have children or if someone in your family is elderly or disabled. These amounts are set by the Government and normally change every year.
You will not be entitled to Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction if any of the following apply:
- you are not the person liable to pay rent or Council Tax
- you have more than £16,000 in savings
- you are not a UK Citizen with some exceptions
- you live in the home of a close relative or you are a full-time student, unless you are a full time student who is also:
- Receiving Income Support
- or a lone parent or couple who are responsible for a child or foster child
- or disabled
- or under 19 and following a further (not higher) course of education
- or aged 60 or more.
How we pay your Benefit
Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction are normally awarded from the Monday after the day you claim.
Benefit can be paid directly to yourself, if you are a private tenant, either by means of a cheque being issued every fortnight or you can choose to have it paid directly into your bank account. If your landlord is a Housing Association you can choose to have it paid directly to them.
We will pay your Council Tax Reduction directly into your Council Tax account. It will show as a reduction on your Council Tax bill.
Local Housing Allowance
Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is Housing Benefit for people on benefits or low incomes who rent from private landlords. LHA is based on the number of rooms people are allowed, not how much the rent is. The number of rooms allowed depends on who lives with the tenant.
Local Housing Allowance will usually be paid directly to you, not your landlord. You will get paid either straight into your bank account or by cheque.
It is up to you to make sure your rent is paid to your landlord. One way of doing this is to set up a regular payment from a bank account.
The amount of LHA your housing benefit will be based on depends on who lives with you, what area you live and the date of claim. The LHA rates are set by the government annually and reviewed monthly and are published in many places e.g. Customer Service Points, Job centres and Council websites.