Housing benefit information

How to apply

Housing Benefit helps you pay your rent if you are on a low income.

You can apply if you’re working or unemployed, unless you get Universal Credit. If you get Universal Credit your housing costs are included in that.

To apply for Housing Benefit you need use My Account.

Create an account

Already got one? Log into your My Account.

Calculate your benefit entitlement

A benefit calculator is now available to help you determine whether you may be entitled to Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Support and the potential amount.

If you find that you may be entitled, you will be able to access the benefit claim form directly from the ‘Results’ page of the calculator.

The calculator will also permit you to assess the impact of increasing your working hours and/or pay on your entitlement.

Calculate your benefit entitlement now

Can I claim housing benefit?

You can claim housing benefit if:

  • You are liable to pay the rent 
  • The property is your main residence.

You cannot claim housing benefit if: 

  • You are not liable to pay the rent, or if you own your own home 
  • You have more than £16,000 in capital, savings and investments unless you or your partner receives a Pension Credit
  • Your immigration status in the UK excludes you from receiving public funds 
  • Your landlord is a close relative and they are also residing in the property
  • You do not rent the property on a commercial basis 
  • You are a full time student, unless you also fall within one of the following categories below: 
        • Couples or lone parents who are responsible for a child or young person 
        • You are disabled and those who have been awarded a disabled student's allowance due to deafness 
        • You are under 21 years old and the course of study is not higher education (you must have started the course or were enrolled or accepted on it, before the age of 19) 
        • Aged 60 or over 
        • Receiving Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance (income based)

Since April 2014, new European Economic Area (EEA) jobseekers are no longer able to access housing benefit if they are claiming income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA). These housing benefit changes do not affect UK and Irish Republic nationals, or EEA migrants genuinely self-employed or in a job.

EEA nationals, who have been working in the UK and are subsequently made redundant and claim JSA, are not affected by this measure.

Working out housing benefit

We run the scheme but the Government sets the rules. How much you get depends on:

  • whether you have a partner 
  • whether you or anyone you live with gets a disability benefit
  • your personal circumstances and the amount of rent you have to pay
  • how much money you have coming in - income from working or self employed, benefits and pensions
  • the amount of savings you have (more than £16,000 will normally disqualify you)
  • any other people you live with including non-dependants, who would be expected to make a contribution to household costs
  • the number of bedrooms you need
  • renting from council or housing association:
      • If you have a spare room your eligible rent will be further reduced by 14% for one spare bedroom and 25% for two or more spare bedrooms – Bedroom Tax
  • renting from a private landlord:
      • The 'Local Housing Allowance’ is used to work out the maximum rate to be used in the calculation of housing benefit based on where you live and how big your property and family are.

If you get one of the following:

  • Income Support 
  • Job Seekers Allowance (Income Based) 
  • Employment and Support Allowance (Income Related) 
  • Pension Guarantee Credit 

You will get the full amount of your eligible rent / maximum housing benefit minus any non-dependant deductions.

All other cases

We calculate benefit by comparing your weekly income with your 'applicable amount'. Your applicable amount is the amount the Government says you need to live on each week (the amount will depend on your circumstances for example: if you are single, part of a couple, sick, disabled, elderly or a lone parent).

If your weekly income is less than, or the same as your 'applicable amount', you will get the full amount of housing benefit. If this happens you should claim Income Support as you may get more help.

If your weekly income is more than your 'applicable amount' (any income over that is called "Excess Income") then you are entitled to receive housing benefit equal to the weekly eligible rent less 65% of the weekly excess income figure and less any non-dependant deductions.

Non-dependant deductions

If you have any other adults living with you (over the age of 18), such as grown up children, we may have to reduce the housing benefit we can pay you. This reduction is called a non-dependant deduction. 

Claiming housing benefit - single and under 35

If you are under 35 years old, and live on your own renting from a private landlord, then the amount of housing benefit you are entitled to will be restricted in line with legislation.

This restriction will not apply if you:

  • rent from a local authority or housing association
  • are aged under 22 and have been in care
  • live in supported housing provided by a housing association, registered charity, voluntary organisation
  • get the severe disability premium in your benefit because you are entitled to the middle or higher rate care component of the Disability Living Allowance
  • need an extra bedroom for a carer who provides you with the overnight care you need but who doesn't normally live with you
  • have spent at least three months in a:
    • homeless hostel
    • hostel specialising in rehabilitating and resettling within the community

The Overall Benefit Cap

There is currently a limit on the total amount of welfare benefits that working age households can receive and this is called the overall benefit cap (OBC).

The cap applies to households in receipt of Housing Benefit or Universal Credit unless exempt.

  • For couples, families and single parents, the total amount of specified welfare benefits that can be received is £500 per week.
  • For single people, the total amount of specified welfare benefits that can be received is £350 per week.

Unless you are exempt, if your household receives more than the above amount in total for specified welfare benefits, your Housing Benefit payments, or where you are in receipt of Universal Credit, your Universal Credit payments will be reduced by the amount that your total benefits exceed the cap.
 
Following the Government’s summer 2015 budget, the cap is to be reduced in the autumn of 2016 to a set limit.

  • For couples, families and single parents, the total amount of specified welfare benefits that can be received is £442.31 per week
  • For single people the total amount of welfare benefits that can be received is £296.35 per week.

Find out more about the Overall Benefit Cap including exemptions to it and planned future changes

 

 

Non dependant deductions

The level of deduction will depend on the non-dependant's circumstances, for example, whether they are working, the number of hours they work and the level of their earnings. For housing benefit there are six different levels of deductions.

However, there are some circumstances when a deduction will not be taken and these are listed below.

Housing benefit for non-dependants

A non-dependant deduction will not be taken if you or your partner:

  • Are registered or treated as blind 
  • Are receiving the care component of disability living allowance or attendance allowance 
  • Similarly a non-dependant deduction will not be taken if the non-dependant
  • Is on a youth training scheme/receives a work based training allowance 
  • Is a full time student (this may not apply during the summer holiday)
  • Is a prisoner 
  • Has been in hospital for 52 weeks or more 
  • Is under 25 years old and receives income support or job seekers allowance (IB) 
  • Is under 25 years old and has no earned income and is receiving Universal Credit
  • Is under 25 years old and in the assessment phase (first 13 weeks) of employment and support allowance (IR) 
  • Is over 18 years but child benefit is still payable 
  • Or his or her normal home is somewhere else

Non-dependant deductions per week in housing benefit from April 2015. Non-dependant deduction rates and the gross income bands in housing benefit are the same for pensioners and people who are not pensioners.

ND Deductions in housing benefitApril 2015
Aged 25 or over and on IS/JSA(IB), or aged 18 or over and not in remunerative work or working less than 16 hours a week, may also be receiving universal credit £14.55
In receipt of main phase ESA(IR) £14.55
In receipt of pension credit Nil
Not in receipt of main phase ESA(IR) rate Nil
Aged 18 or over and in remunerative work
Gross income less than £129 £14.55
Gross income not less than £129.00 but less than £189 £33.40
Gross income not less than £189.00 but less than £246 £45.85
Gross income not less than £246.00 but less than £328 £75.05
Gross income not less than £328.00 but less than £408 £85.45
Gross income not less than £408 £93.80

Documents you'll need

Some people may need to provide evidence to support their claim. If you need to, you will be notified of what you need to provide and how you need to provide it. Below are examples of documents we may ask you for.

New claims

Please provide documents for all members of the household:

TypeWhat to provide
Identity for ALL members of the household

A valid Passport, photocard Driving Licence, UK Residence Permit, Certificate of employment in HM Forces, Birth Certificate,  A letter that has been sent to you from a solicitor, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, Social Worker or Probation Officer confirming your identity.

Evidence of National Insurance Number for ALL adults living in your household

A National Insurance number card, payslips or P45/P60, letters from the Department for Work and Pensions or HMRC office

Proof of earnings for ALL adults living in your household
  • Your last five payslips if you are paid every week
  • Your last three payslips if you are paid every two weeks
  • Your last two payslips if you are paid every month
  • A contract of employment if you have recently started working
Proof of self-employed earnings for ALL adults living in your household

If you are Self-Employed - You must complete a separate online form which we will send you further details for. You should gather details of your Unique Tax Reference from HMRC, and your last year's income and expenses. If you have been trading for less than six months or your business is new, you will need to provide details of what you have earned since starting up the business and a forecast for the rest of the year. We may ask you for receipts and invoices as evidence of your self employment.

Proof of receipt of Private Pensions for ALL adults living in your household

If you are receiving a Private Pension - A P60 or recent Pay Advice Slips

Proof of Student Loans and Grants for claimant and partner (if applicable)


If you are a student - A letter from Student Finance detailing the full breakdown of loans and grants given to you.

Proof of your and your partner's (if applicable) capital, savings and investments

Full bank statements, all your bank, building society or post office books, Certificates for premium bonds, National Savings Certificates, ISAs, stocks, shares and unit trusts. We need to see proof of any interest or dividends you get on investments and savings. The proof you send must show details for at least the last 2 months.

Proof of All Benefits, Tax Credits, Child Benefit, Allowances and Pensions

All pages of your current award notice or letters from your Jobcentre Plus office, Department for Work and Pensions or the Pension Service confirming how much you get

Proof of Rent and Tenancies

A Tenancy Agreement or a signed letter from your landlord which states the rent being charged and a breakdown of service charges if applicable. A rent book, rent receipts, Note:  BHP Tenants do not need to provide this information.

Evidence you are living at the address you are claiming for

A recently paid utility bill/TV licence, or a bank statement. If you have recently moved in we will need to see a utility bill from your previous address regardless of where you lived.

Proof of student status for non-dependants

A certificate from the place of their education showing their name, whether the course is full time or part time and the start and the end date of the course

Evidence of Childcare Costs and any other money paid out

A recent letter from the childcare provider giving their Ofsted registration number, name and address, names of the children receiving care, the amount charged and how often.
Proof of Child maintenance paid if applicable.

Changes in Circumstance

Please provide documents for all adults in the household:

TypeWhat to provide
Change in employment or no longer working

YP45 confirming end date of your old employment. If you have changed jobs, we'll also need your new contract.

Increase/decrease in earnings for any Adult houshold member

A letter from the employer confirming the date of change and what the new income is, or payslips with the new wages.

New baby

A Birth Certificate and proof of Child Benefit

Partner or any other adult moving in Proof of their identity and proof of their income.
A household member moving out

A letter signed by you confirming the name of the person that has moved out, the date they left and their new address

Rent increase/decrease

A new signed Tenancy Agreement or letter from your landlord, confirming the date of the increase/decrease, what the rent has changed to and how often it's charged.

Moving to a new home

A signed Tenancy Agreement for your new address confirming the start date, amount of rent being changed and how often, along with a breakdown of service charges if applicable.

Change in Benefits or Allowances

All pages of your new award notice from the Job Centre Plus, Department for Work and pension (DWP), HMRC or the Pension Service.

Sharing information with landlords

We have introduced a portal which allows us to share information with your landlord about your housing benefit, if it is paid directly to your landlord or a council rent account. Sharing information with your landlord can help us reduce the risk of you falling behind with your rent.

If you fall eight weeks or more in arrears with your rent, we will start to make payments directly to your landlord providing they have submitted the correct evidence allowing us to do so.

Access to the portal will allow your landlord to view the following:

  • any overpayment amount and weekly recovery rate
  • the weekly entitlement
  • details of any historic payments
  • status of the Housing Benefit claim
  • whether a claim is suspended or not
  • future payment amount and due date.

We won’t give your landlord any information about:

  • your personal and family circumstances
  • reasons for suspension or cancellation
  • any additional information we have requested from you
  • whether you are in receipt of a Discretionary Housing Payment.

Overall Benefit Cap 

The Overall Benefit Cap is a limit on the total amount of certain benefits that you can get if you are of working age. The limits are prescribed by the Government and will only affect you if you are receiving Housing Benefit or Universal Credit.

If you are a person that may be affected by the Overall Benefit Cap, the Council will share information as permitted by law to enable appropriate identification and support to be given.

Details of your Housing Benefit award and any short fall arising as a result of the Overall Benefit Cap may be given to your Social Landlord in order that identification and appropriate support may be given. Information will also be shared between different parts of the Council for the same purpose.

The consequences of not sharing information as set out above may result in you not receiving the appropriate support for your circumstances and experiencing a reduction in your Housing Benefit / Universal Credit income. The shared information will be retained for the duration that the Overall Benefit Cap applies to your circumstances.

Under Occupancy Charge ('Bedroom Tax')

If you are living in accommodation provided by the Council or a social landlord and are assessed as having more bedrooms in your accommodation than is appropriate for your circumstances, you will be considered to be under occupying that property.

If you are assessed as under occupying your accommodation, a percentage reduction will be applied to your eligible rent and any eligible service charges used to determine your entitlement to Housing Benefit. This will mean that your potential entitlement to Housing Benefit will be lower.

The percentage reduction applied will depend on how many rooms you are under occupying your home by and is as follows:

  • 14% if you have one extra bedroom
  • 25% if you have two or more extra bedrooms

Details of your Housing Benefit award and any short fall arising as a result of the Under Occupancy Charge may be given to your Social Landlord in order that identification and appropriate support may be given. Information will also be shared between different parts of the Council for the same purpose.

The consequences of not sharing information as set out above may result in you not receiving the appropriate support for your circumstances and experiencing a reduction in your Housing Benefit / Universal Credit income. The shared information will be retained for the duration that the Under Occupancy Charge applies to your circumstances.