Housing Benefit

Housing Benefit may help you to pay your rent if you are on a low income. If you live in England, Scotland or Wales it is paid by your local council. If you live in Northern Ireland, it is paid by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.

In England, Scotland and Wales, Housing Benefit is being gradually replaced by Universal Credit. To find out more, contact your local council.

You can claim Housing Benefit whether you live in social housing, a housing association property or privately rented housing.

The amount you get will depend on things such as:

  • where you live
  • your age
  • how many bedrooms you have
  • who lives with you
  • your savings
  • what benefits you get.

If your rent is higher than the amount of Housing Benefit you get, you will have to pay the difference. You may be able to get a Discretionary Housing Payment to help with this.

If the council or Housing Executive decides the house is too big for your needs, the benefit may be paid at a reduced rate (under-occupancy rule).

Single people aged 25 to 34 are only entitled to the Housing Benefit shared accommodation rate.

What is Housing Benefit?

Housing Benefit helps with your rent payments if you have a low income. If you live in England, Scotland or Wales, it is paid by your local council. If you live in Northern Ireland, it is paid by the Housing Executive.

Housing Benefit is gradually being replaced by the housing element of Universal Credit. The benefit you should apply for will depend on where you live and your situation. For more information, speak to a welfare rights adviser.

Managing your housing costs

Julian, who was diagnosed with bowel cancer talks about the financial problems he had and how Macmillan helped him.

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Managing your housing costs

Julian, who was diagnosed with bowel cancer talks about the financial problems he had and how Macmillan helped him.

About our cancer information videos


Who can claim

You can claim Housing Benefit whether you live in social housing, a housing association property or privately rented housing.

You must:

  • have a low income
  • have under £16,000 in savings (unless you get Pension Credit)
  • be responsible for paying the rent.

Most full-time students are not eligible for Housing Benefit.

If you live in an area where Universal Credit is available, you may be told to apply for that instead of Housing Benefit.


How much you could get

The amount of Housing Benefit you get will depend on:

  • where you live
  • your age
  • who lives with you
  • the number of bedrooms in your home
  • your savings and income
  • the savings and income of your partner, if you have one
  • any other benefits you get
  • your rent.

If you are renting from a private landlord, the amount of Housing Benefit you get will be based on Local Housing Allowance rates. These are based on the cost of renting in your area. If you live in England, Scotland or Wales, contact your local council for more information.

If you live in Northern Ireland, contact the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.

If your rent is higher than Local Housing Allowance rates, you will need to pay the difference. But you may also be able to get help through a Discretionary Housing Payment. If your rent is lower than Local Housing Allowance rates, you could get the full amount of your rent in Housing Benefit, but nothing above that amount.


Limits for single people aged 25 to 34

Single people aged 25 to 34 who rent from a private landlord are only entitled to the Housing Benefit shared accommodation rate.

In this case, a single person means someone who:

  • is not living with someone as a couple
  • does not have dependent children.

The shared accommodation rate is the amount of Housing Benefit you would get if you were renting a single room in a shared house. It is based on the cost of renting a shared property in your area. Even if you are not in a shared house and are renting somewhere on your own, you are still only entitled to the shared accommodation rate.


Under-occupancy rule (bedroom tax)

If you live in social housing and your council or the Northern Ireland Housing Executive decides that your home is too big for your needs, Housing Benefit may be paid at a reduced rate. This is sometimes called the under-occupancy rule or bedroom tax. It also applies to the housing element of Universal Credit.

You will not be affected by this if you are at the qualifying age (or above) for Pension Credit.

If you need a bedroom for an overnight carer, you may not be affected by this tax.

Speak to a welfare rights adviser if you think this tax may affect you. You may be able to claim a Discretionary Housing Payment to cover bedroom tax costs.

In Northern Ireland, if your Housing Benefit is reduced by this rule, you will get a welfare supplementary payment to cover the difference. You can find out more at nidirect.gov.uk


The benefit cap

The benefit cap may also affect how much you can get in benefits each week. The cap includes Housing Benefit.

For more information, call the Macmillan Support Line on 0808 808 00 00 to speak to a welfare rights adviser.


Discretionary Housing Payments

Housing Benefit may not cover all your rent. If you are having problems paying the rest of your rent, you may be able to claim a Discretionary Housing Payment from your local council or the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.

Discretionary Housing Payments are awarded for a certain length of time. You should be told how long you have been awarded the payment for and what to do if you need to claim again.


How to claim

To find out more about Housing Benefit or to apply for it, contact your local council or the Northern Ireland Housing Executive. If you are also applying for Income Support or Jobseeker’s Allowance, the application process for those benefits includes questions about claiming Housing Benefit.

You should be able to find your local council’s contact details in your phone book, or by visiting one of the websites we have listed here:

I contacted Macmillan and they helped me to get full Housing Benefit, which has really taken the pressure off my financial situation.

Dimitri

Back to Help with bills and housing costs

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