What is Housing Benefit?

Who can claim?

Anyone who has to pay rent for their home and who is not in receipt of Universal Credit can claim. Boarders, lodgers, people in hostels and bed and breakfast accommodation can also claim.

In terms of claiming Housing Benefit:

  • you must be on low income
  • it doesn't matter whether you are in work or not
  • you can be employed or self-employed
  • you can get Housing Benefit even if you do not receive any other benefits
  • you may be single or have a partner
  • you may be a pensioner
  • you do not need to have paid any National Insurance contributions

Who can't claim?

You cannot claim Housing Benefit:

  • if you are living with a member of your immediate family and paying them rent 
  • to help with mortgage payments
  • if you have capital of over £16,000, unless you are already receiving the guaranteed part of Pension Credit. Capital means savings, land, property or anything else which could provide you with income. 
  • if you are a student, but there are a few exceptions

How much benefit could you receive?

To work out you benefit, we will look at the following:

  • money you and your partner have coming in (this includes; earnings, benefits, tax credits and pensions)
  • your savings and your partner's savings
  • your personal circumstances (such as; age, disability, having children and other people living in the household)

We calculate benefit according to rules agreed by Parliament.

We can pay up to a maximum of 100% of your eligible rent. Your eligible rent may not be the same as the amount you actually pay because:

  • there may be some charges that are not eligible for benefit, or
  • some restrictions may apply

You can get an idea of how much benefit you may get, by using our online benefits calculator.

Getting benefit backdated

You may be able to get Housing Benefit for a period before you make your claim, if you could have claimed earlier. This is called backdating. Housing Benefit can be backdated up to one month for working age claimants and three months if you or your partner are over the qualifying age for Pension Credit.

To be eligible to receive backdated housing benefit you must show you have good reason for not claiming earlier and it existed through the whole of the period, i.e. between the date you wish to be paid from and the date you make your claim. An example is - you were given the wrong advice or you have been unwell. You also have to show that you were entitled to Housing Benefit throughout the period you require backdated benefit for - this means that you were liable to pay rent and your income was low enough for you to be entitled to benefit.

You can tell us on our claim form, the date you would like your claim to be paid from and your reasons for not having claimed earlier. We will give your request full consideration on receipt of your application. 

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