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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:
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.
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.
From April 2013, people living in local authority or housing association accommodation will have 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.
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.
Visit nidirect.org.uk| for more information about Housing Benefit and how to claim in Northern Ireland.
Content last reviewed: 1 April 2013
Next planned review: 2014
For answers, support or just a chat, call the Macmillan Support Line free (Monday to Friday, 9am-8pm)
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