X by X Bromley - A Community Interest Company

Housing Benefit

housing benefit

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1) What is Housing Benefit?

low income housing benefit copy

You could get Housing Benefit to help you pay your rent if you’re on a low income.

unemployed or working

You can apply for Housing Benefit whether you’re unemployed or working.

You may also be able to get help with your rent if your benefits stop.

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Housing Benefit can cover a part or all of your rent depending on your circumstances.

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Payments for Housing Benefit do not cover heating, water or other utility costs that may be included alongside your rent.

Housing benefit not fixed

You may get help with all or part of your rent. There’s no set amount of Housing Benefit and what you get will depend on whether you rent privately or from a council.

No housing benefit

Usually you won’t get Housing Benefit if:

  • your savings are over £16,000 – unless you get 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

Own home - no housing benefit

If you own your home you can’t get Housing Benefit, but you may be able to get Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI).

Housing benefit calculator

Use a benefits calculator to work out what you could get or check what extra help is available. You may need to claim Universal Credit instead.

2) What you’ll get

Housing benefit not fixed

You may get help with all or part of your rent. There’s no set amount of Housing Benefit and what you get will depend on whether you rent privately or from a council.

Council and social housing rent

Pay different rates

How much you get depends on:

  • your household income – including benefits, pensions and savings (over £6,000)
  • your circumstances, for example the age of people in the house or if someone in the house is disabled
  • if you have a spare room – for more information about this see the section on the bedroom tax below
  • your ‘eligible’ rent. ‘Eligible rent’ is based on how much it costs to rent properties in your area. It includes service charges (such as for lift maintenance or a shared laundry) but not things like heating

Private rent

Local Housing Allowance

Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is used to work out Housing Benefit for tenants who rent privately. How much you get is usually based on:

  • where you live
  • how many people live in your household
  • how much money you have coming in – this includes benefits, pensions and savings (over £6,000)
  • your circumstances, for example the age of people in the house or if someone in the house is disabled

Single under 35

Single people under the age of 35 can only get Housing Benefit for a bed-sit or a single room in shared accommodation.

Housing benefit calculator

To find out how many bedrooms you can get Housing Benefit for go to: http://lha-direct.voa.gov.uk/bedroomcalculator.aspx

To find out what your Local Housing Allowance rate is go to: https://lha-direct.voa.gov.uk/search.aspx

Calendar page

Local Housing Allowance rates do not apply if you’ve been getting Housing Benefit since before 7 April 2008, unless you:

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

The benefit cap

Does benefit cap apply?

The benefit cap limits the amount of benefit that most people aged 16 to 64 can get.

If you’re affected, your Housing Benefit will go down to make sure that the total amount of benefit you get isn’t more than the cap level. To find out more go to our section on the benefit cap.

How you’re paid

Payment from council

Housing Benefit is paid by your council as follows:

  • council tenants – into your rent account (you won’t receive the money)
  • private tenants – into your bank or building society account (rarely by cheque)
Housing benefit part of Universal Credit

If you are on Universal Credit you will get a single monthly payment that includes your housing benefit. This is paid direct to you.

3) How to Claim

If you are on Universal Credit

Housing benefit part of Universal Credit

If you are claiming Universal Credit you can get help for housing costs as part of your Universal Credit payment.

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This is instead of Housing Benefit – you will have to pay your rent directly to your landlord if on Universal Credit.

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See our page on Universal Credit for more details: www.xbyxbromley.com/resourcebank/universalcredit

If you are on Pension Credit

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You can claim housing benefit with your claim for Pension Credit.

Contact the Pension Service to claim. They will send details of your claim for Housing Benefit to your council.

Pension Service:

Open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Telephone: 0800 99 1234

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Textphone: 0800 169 0133

If you are not claiming other benefits

Apply to council

You will need to apply directly to your local council if you are not claiming any of the benefits above.

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You can use this page to find your local council’s webpage for housing: www.gov.uk/apply-housing-benefit-from-council

Information ready

You’ll need to provide some information and evidence to support your claim for Housing Benefit.

You’ll get Housing Benefit faster if you have this available when you make your claim.

You’ll need to know:

Paying rent

• How much rent you pay

utilities

• whether anything else is included in the rent, such as water, gas or electricity charges

Maintenance costs

• if you pay any service charges, including building maintenance or insurance

landlord

• your landlord or agent’s details

Backdating

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It may be possible to get your claim backdated:

– for example if your circumstances changed but you are applying a few weeks later.

Ask about this when you apply.

4) Challenging a Housing Benefit decision

If you think a Housing Benefit decision is wrong for any reason you can:

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• Ask for an explanation

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• Have the decision looked at again

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• Appeal against the decision

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There is an excellent guide on how to challenge a Housing Benefit decision with tips and advice at: https://www.turn2us.org.uk/Benefit-guides/Challenging-a-Housing-Benefit-decision/What-are-my-options

5) The “Bedroom Tax”

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If you live in a council or housing association property and are claiming Housing Benefit you may be affected by the new rules introduced in 2013 commonly known as the “Bedroom Tax”.

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If you are affected your Housing Benefit will be subject to a reduction of 14% or 25%.

This depends on the size of the property and the number of dependents living with you.

In some areas it may be possible to claim Discretionary Housing Payments to cover any shortfall in your rent. See the links below for more information.

6) Sanctions

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If you are claiming Housing Benefit alongside other benefits and you are sanctioned you must tell your local council straight away.

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They will need information from you otherwise they will also stop your Housing Benefit.

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For more information about sanctions and how to challenge them go to: http://www.xbyxbromley.com/resource-bank/sanctions/