Housing Benefit

Housing Benefit


Part 1: Overview

You could get Housing Benefit to help you pay your rent if you’re on a low income.

Housing Benefit can pay for part or all of your rent. How much you get depends on your income and circumstances.

You can apply for Housing Benefit whether you’re unemployed or working.

You may also be able to get help with your rent if your benefits stop.

Housing Benefit can’t be paid for heating, hot water, energy or food – if you need help, use the benefits adviser to see what else you might be entitled to.


Part 2: What you’ll get

There’s no set amount of Housing Benefit. How much you get depends on:

  • if you rent privately or from a council
  • whether you have unoccupied rooms and live in council or social housing
  • your household income and circumstances (including your partner’s)

Income includes money from savings (over £6,000), benefits and pensions.

You may get help with all or part of your rent – use the benefits adviser to work out what you could get.

From April 2013, you may also be able to get extra help from your local council called a ‘discretionary housing payment’ if your Housing Benefit doesn’t cover your rent.

Council and social housing rent

How much you get depends on:

  • your ‘eligible’ rent – eg what’s a reasonable rent for a suitable property where you live
  • your household income
  • your circumstances – eg your age, your family and their ages, if anyone in the family is disabled, the number of rooms you don’t use
  • if you have to pay service charges – eg lift maintenance, communal laundry facilities

Under-occupied rooms

From April 2013, if you live in council accommodation or other social housing and are assessed as having at least 1 extra bedroom in your house, your Housing Benefit could be reduced by:

  • 14% of the ‘eligible rent’ if you have 1 extra bedroom
  • 25% of the ‘eligible rent’ if you have 2 or more extra bedrooms

The reduction is worked out based on your eligible rent (including any eligible services), not on your Housing Benefit.



Your eligible rent is £100 per week.

Of this, Housing Benefit pays £50 and you pay £50.

You have 1 extra bedroom so the reduction is 14%.

This means your Housing Benefit will be reduced by £14 per week.

Number of bedrooms you can claim

You can claim 1 bedroom for:

  • each single adult
  • each couple
  • all children of the same gender under 16
  • all children under 10 (regardless of gender)
  • each disabled tenant
  • each partner needing an external overnight carer
  • all foster children (also applies when no foster children live with you as long as the room isn’t empty for more than 52 weeks)
  • each foster child that can’t share a bedroom because of a disability or medical condition (contact your local council with medical evidence)
  • each adult child in the Armed Forces or each reservist
  • all external carers who provide overnight care for you or your partner

Private rent

How much you get is usually based on the Local Housing Allowance Limit in your area, your income and circumstances.


Property Weekly amount
1 bedroom (or shared accommodation) Up to £250
2 bedrooms Up to £290
3 bedrooms Up to £340
4 bedrooms Up to £400


If you’ve been getting Housing Benefit since before 7 April 2008, these limits only apply if you:

  • change address
  • have a break in your claim for Housing Benefit

How you’re paid

Housing Benefit is paid by your local council as follows:

  • council tenants – into your rent account (you won’t receive the money)
  • private tenants – into your bank or building society account (rarely by cheque)

The benefit cap

The benefit cap puts a limit on the total amount of benefit that most people aged 16 to 64 can get, and started to affect some local councils from 15 April 2013.

If you’re affected, your Housing Benefit will go down to make sure that the total amount of benefit you get isn’t more than the cap level.


Part 3: Eligibility

You may get Housing Benefit if:

  • you pay rent
  • you’re on a low income or claiming benefits
  • your savings are below a certain level – usually £16,000

You can apply if you’re employed or unemployed, but if you live with a partner, only one of you can get Housing Benefit.

If you’re single and under 35, you can only get Housing Benefit for bed-sit accommodation or a single room in shared accommodation.

Use the benefits adviser to check your eligibility or contact your local council.

Who isn’t eligible

Usually you won’t get Housing Benefit if:

  • your savings are over £16,000 – unless you get Guarantee credit of Pension Credit
  • you live in the home of a close relative
  • you’re a full-time student – unless you’re disabled or have children
  • you’re an asylum seeker or sponsored to be in the UK

If your circumstances change

Tell your local council if your circumstances change as this can affect how much you get.

For example, a child leaves school, your rent changes, you go away for more than 1 month.

From 15 April 2013 a cap (limit) will be put on the total amount of benefit that most people aged 16 to 64 can get.


Part 4: How to claim

If you’re claiming other benefits

Contact Jobcentre Plus to claim Housing Benefit with your claim for the following benefits:

  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance

Jobcentre Plus will send details of your claim for Housing Benefit to your local council.

Jobcentre Plus
Telephone: 0800 055 6688
Textphone: 0800 023 4888
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

If you’re claiming Pension Credit

Contact the Pension Service to claim Housing Benefit with your claim for Pension Credit.

The Pension Service will send details of your claims for Housing Benefit to your local council.

Pension Service
Telephone: 0800 99 1234
Textphone: 0800 169 0133
Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm
Saturday, 9am to 1pm

If you’re not claiming other benefits

Get a Housing Benefit claim form from your local council or send them form HCTB1. The form comes with notes to help you fill it in. The ‘interactive version’ can be filled out on a computer.

Download ‘Form HCTB1, Housing Benefit claim’ (PDF, 179KB)

Download ‘Form HCTB1 interactive version, Housing Benefit claim’ (PDF, 819KB)

What you need to know

You might also be able to get your claim backdated – ask your local council.

You can claim in advance by up to 13 weeks (or 17 weeks if you’re aged 60). For example, because you’re moving. You won’t usually get any money before you move.

Appeal a decision

You can ask your council for a Housing Benefit decision to be reconsidered.

If you’re unhappy with the response you can appeal the decision.


Part 5: Further information

Help if your benefits stop

Some benefits stop if you go back to work, work more hours or earn more money.

If this happens, you could get an extra 4 weeks of Housing Benefit to help you pay your rent. This is called Extended Payment of Housing Benefit.

Once your extended payment ends, you might get ‘in-work Housing Benefit’.

How to apply

You don’t have to claim – your council will decide if you’re eligible for help and write and let you know.

More information

Download the ‘Housing and heating costs’ leaflet for more information about Housing Benefit.

Download ‘Housing and heating costs’ (PDF, 1.2MB) for more information

Local Service Information Points

Find an Information Point to get face-to-face advice or leaflets about Housing Benefit.

You need to make an appointment to get face-to-face advice.


Other relevant links




Discretionary Housing Payments

Guidance Manual 

Last updated: 16 May 2013.



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