What is Housing Benefit?
Housing Benefit is help with rent and some other housing costs.
Housing benefit is one of the six benefits being replaced by Universal Credit. You may still be receiving Housing Benefit if you have not yet changed to Universal Credit, but you cannot make a new claim for Housing Benefit unless:
- You (and your partner if you have one) are a pensioner
- You live in a hostel or refuge
- You live in accommodation that includes care, support or supervision
- You live in temporary accommodation provided by the council
- Provide payslips
- Know your salary
- Ask us for advice.
Who can get Housing Benefit?
You can get Housing Benefit if you:
- are liable to pay rent
- are on a low income
- do not have capital or savings above £16,000; and
- pass the ‘habitual residence’ test and have the right to reside
The ‘bedroom tax’
If you are of working age and are renting social housing, your ‘eligible rent’ is reduced if you are considered by the local authority to have one or more spare bedrooms; this rule is commonly referred to as the ‘bedroom tax’. You are allowed one bedroom for:
- every adult couple;
- any other adult aged 16 or over;
- any two children of the same sex aged under 16
- any two children aged under 10
- a foster child or children, if you are an approved foster parent;
- any other child; and
- a carer (or team of carers) who do not live with you but provide you or your partner with overnight care.
If your home has one ‘empty’ bedroom, your eligible rent is reduced by 14%; if you have two empty bedrooms, the reduction is 25%.
The Benefit Cap
Housing Benefit is included in the list of benefits to which the ‘benefit cap’ applies. This cap limits the total weekly benefits that can be claimed.
Your Housing Benefit may be reduced if you have a ‘non-dependant’ living with you. A non-dependant is someone who is aged 18 or over who is not your partner or living with you on a commercial basis (eg a sub-tenant or boarder). Typically, an adult son or daughter will be considered to be a non-dependant. There are exceptions where non dependant deductions are not made.
Discretionary Housing Payments
You may be able to apply for a discretionary housing payment (DHP) if your local authority thinks you need additional help with your housing costs on top of your Housing Benefit. You do not have a right to a DHP; it is up to the local authority whether they give you any payment. Most local authorities have a form on which to request a DHP. If your authority does not, write a letter instead.
Moving into work
Your Housing Benefit can continue at your old rate for four weeks if you find work and you were getting:
- Employment and Support Allowance;
- Incapacity Benefit;
- Income Support;
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance; or
- Severe Disablement Allowance.
To get the extended payments, you must have been on one of the above benefits for at least 26 weeks and your job must be expected to last at least five weeks. You do not need to make a claim to receive extended payments but you do need to inform the local authority within four weeks of starting work.
You may still be eligible to receive Housing Benefit if you start work, depending on the amount you heard and the number of hours you work; it is based on your income, so inform your local council and provide payslips to show details of the work you will start to check if you are still eligible.
Claiming Housing Benefit
The easiest and quickest way to claim is online at:
You can also complete a paper form if you would prefer
Moving from Housing Benefit to Universal Credit
Universal Credit replaces six working age benefits (including Housing Benefit) with a single monthly payment, similar to a monthly working wage. As part of the Universal Credit rollout, the government will be moving eligible individuals from Housing Benefit to Universal Credit by 2025. This will occur by Natural Migration, where individuals may have a change in their own circumstances which triggers the transition from Housing Benefit to Universal Credit, or via the government’s Managed Migration Programme, where individuals currently claiming one or more of the benefits being replaced by Universal Credit will be invited to apply for Universal Credit.
When moving from Housing Benefit to Universal Credit for the first time, you will be entitled to an additional two week’s Housing Benefit, to help with housing costs while you wait for your first Universal Credit payment. If your Housing Benefit was paid to your landlord, this additional 2 week run on payment will also be paid to your landlord. If you previously received your Housing Benefit directly, this additional payment will be made to you, so it is important that you then make this payment to your landlord. You can find out more about this additional payment of Housing Benefit when moving on to Universal Credit here.
Moving from Housing Benefit to Universal Credit can seem daunting. You can find further information about Universal Credit here or you can always contact Cash Wise for support.