If you’re on a low income and live in rented accommodation, this benefit helps with your rent.
You can claim Housing Benefit if your savings are £16,000 or less. However, if you get the guarantee element of Pension Credit, you can get Housing Benefit irrespective of your savings.
Housing Benefit is handled by your local authority. You don’t have to be a council tenant to qualify for this benefit. Most full-time students are not eligible, but there are exceptions.
If you’re renting a property or room from a private landlord and are on a low income, your Housing Benefit will be calculated under Local Housing Allowance rates. These are based on local rents, so they may be different for each area.
Contact your local authority for further information.
After your local authority has worked out your eligible rent, the amount of Housing Benefit you may get will depend on:
where you live
who lives with you
the number of bedrooms in your home
your and your partner’s income and savings
any other benefits you may be getting.
It isn’t based on how much rent you pay.
If your rent is higher than the Local Housing Allowance, you’ll need to make up the difference. If your rent is lower than the Local Housing Allowance, you’ll receive the full amount of your rent.
Shared accommodation for single people
Single people aged 25-34 who rent from a private landlord are now only entitled to the Housing Benefit shared accommodation rate. A single person is someone who isn’t living with someone as a couple and who doesn’t have dependent children.
The shared accommodation rate is based on the level of local rents for properties that are not self-contained. This usually means there’s a shared kitchen, bathroom, toilet or living room.
Changes to Housing Benefit
Between October 2013 and 2017, Universal Credit is gradually replacing Housing Benefit. Contact a benefits adviser to find out how this might affect you.
Since April 2013, people living in local authority or housing association accommodation have had their Housing Benefit reduced if the council decides their home is too big for their needs. This is sometimes called the ‘under-occupancy rule’ or ‘bedroom tax’. You won’t be affected by this change if you’re getting State Pension.
The new benefit cap may also affect the total amount of benefits you get, including Housing Benefit. For more information, call the Macmillan Support Line on 0808 808 00 00 to speak to an experienced welfare rights adviser.
Discretionary Housing Payments
If you’re getting Housing Benefit or council tax support, but are having difficulty paying the shortfall in your rent, you may be able to claim a Discretionary Housing Payment from your local authority.
In Northern Ireland
Visit nidirect.org.uk for more information about Housing Benefit and how to claim in Northern Ireland.
Welfare reform in Northern Ireland - Autumn 2013 update
The Northern Ireland Welfare Reform Bill is still under consideration. While it was originally expected that reforms to the benefits system in Northern Ireland would start to be introduced in summer 2013, these changes are now not expected to occur until at least spring 2014. The latest news on the reforms can be found on our welfare reform page and also at nidirect.gov.uk
Macmillan Cancer Support, in partnership with Citizens Advice, provides a dedicated Welfare Rights Service to cancer people affected by cancer in Northern Ireland. For information and support, or to arrange an appointment, please call 0300 1 233 233. Lines are open Monday to Friday, 9am-12.30pm and 1pm-4pm.
You can also call the Macmillan Support Line on 0808 808 00 00.
For benefits information and support in Northern Ireland please visit nidirect.gov.uk or call 0800 232 1271.
You can also contact the Northern Ireland Benefit Enquiry Line on 0800 220 674, or textphone 0800 243 787 if you are deaf or hard of hearing.