Help with your rent – Housing Benefit
Universal Credit (UC) will eventually replace Housing Benefit.
UC is currently being rolled out to certain areas across the UK. Depending where you live and what your personal circumstances are, you might be able to claim UC instead of Housing Benefit.
What is Housing Benefit
Housing Benefit helps people pay their rent. You could get Housing Benefit if you are on other benefits or if you’re working.
Housing Benefit and Income Support, income-related Employment and Support Allowance and income-related Jobseeker’s Allowance are gradually being replaced by a new benefit called Universal Credit which can include amounts to help with either rent or mortgage. Pension Credit will remain and in the future will include amounts for rent as well as mortgage costs.
How to claim Housing Benefit
If you’re claiming Income Support, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
When you claim Income Support, income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance at your local Jobcentre Plus, you are given a claim form for Housing Benefit at the same time.
You will need to check with the Housing Benefit Department of your local authority whether or not they will accept this form. A local authority may only accept Housing Benefit claims made on their own form. If this is the case with your local authority, you will need to get a claim form from them, fill it in and send it back as soon as possible. This could lead to a quicker decision on your claim. You should keep a copy of any claim form you complete.
Alternatively, you may be able to claim Housing Benefit by telephone if your local authority has published a phone number for making telephone claims. If you’ve claimed Housing Benefit by telephone, your local authority may require you to approve a written statement of your circumstances.
If you are already getting Income Support, income-related ESA or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance and you start paying rent, you can ask for a Housing Benefit claim form at the Jobcentre Plus and contact the local authority for a copy of their Housing Benefit claim form.
Some local authorities allow you to make a claim for Housing Benefit by email or on the internet. It’s up to your local authority to decide whether to allow electronic claims. They can also decide some of the conditions you’ll have to meet to make an electronic claim.
Some local authorities only offer online forms. If you can’t use the online form, ask for a paper form instead and say why you need it. For example, tell your local authority if you have a disability that stops you using the online form. They might be able to give you a paper form, take your claim by telephone or have someone help you with the form. If you’re still having difficulty, get help from an adviser at your nearest Citizens Advice.
Your income and capital
To get Housing Benefit, you must have income and capital below a certain level. However, if you’re getting certain benefits, different rules apply – see below. Capital means things like savings, land or property. However, some capital is ignored, for example, your personal possessions. Certain other types of capital are also ignored. For full details of other capital which is ignored, you should get advice.
If you or your partner have more than £16,000 in capital, you will not get any Housing Benefit, unless you are getting the guarantee credit part of Pension Credit.
If you or your partner have capital of over £6,000, you will be assumed to have some income from that capital.
If you or your partner have reached the qualifying age for Pension Credit and you have capital of over £10,000, you will be assumed to have some income from capital.
If you are getting Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or income-related Employment and Support Allowance, you will automatically be within the income and capital limits for Housing Benefit and you will qualify for the maximum amount. If you are on Pension Credit and you get the guarantee credit (whether on its own or with the savings credit), you will also automatically get the maximum amount of Housing Benefit. If you get the savings credit only, you may qualify for Housing Benefit but it will depend on your income and savings. The local authority will use the Pension Service figures for income and savings to assess whether you can get Housing Benefit.
From 7 November 2016 there may be limits applied to the amount of Housing Benefit you receive if your total income from all benefits exceeds the following limits:
• £442.31 a week if you’re a couple – with or without dependent children
• £442.31 a week if you’re a lone parent with dependent children
• £296.35 a week if you’re a single person without children.
Your Housing Benefit may be reduced if you’re of working age and your home is larger than you need. This is also known as the ‘bedroom tax’, the ‘under-occupancy charge’, the ‘social sector size criteria’ and the ‘removal of the spare room subsidy’. Your housing officer will be able to give you further advice on this or visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk