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Housing benefit and welfare reforms

Housing Benefit

Housing Benefit can help you pay your rent if you’re unemployed, on a low income or claiming benefits. It’s being replaced by Universal Credit.

You can make a new claim for Housing Benefit if any of the following apply:

  • you are getting a legacy benefit, such as Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA IR), which has the severe disability premium included in it. It is not enough to just have entitlement to the severe disability premium. See severe disability premium for more information
  • you got or were entitled to the severe disability premium within the last month and are still eligible for it
  •  you have reached State Pension Credit age, you can click State Pension age to find out more
  • you’re in supported, sheltered or temporary housing

If you live with your partner

You can only make a new claim for Housing Benefit if either:

  • you and your partner have both reached State Pension Credit age
  • one of you has reached State Pension Credit age and started claiming Pension Credit (for you as a couple) before 15 May 2019
  • one of you has reached State Pension Credit age and the other is in receipt of any of the legacy benefits e.g. ESA, JSA, Income Support.

If you have an existing claim

You’ll continue to get Housing Benefit if you were getting it before 15 May 2019, even if your partner is under State Pension age.

If your circumstances change and your Housing Benefit is stopped, you cannot start getting it again unless you and your partner are eligible to make a new claim.

You can apply for Universal Credit if you’re not eligible. See Universal Credit for more information

If you’re in supported, sheltered or temporary housing

You can make a new claim if:

  • you’re living in temporary accommodation, such as a B&B arranged by your council
  • you’re living in a refuge for survivors of domestic abuse
  • you’re living in sheltered or supported housing (such as a hostel) which provides you with ‘care, support or supervision’

If you do not get care, support or supervision through your supported or sheltered housing, you will need to apply for Universal Credit to help with housing costs.

If you’re in supported, sheltered or temporary housing, you can apply for Universal Credit to help with other living costs.

Click Universal Credit and housing costs for more information 

When you may not be able to claim

Usually, you will not get Housing Benefit if:

  • your savings are over £16,000 - unless you get Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  •  you’re paying a mortgage on your own home - you may be able to get Support for Mortgage Interest also know as SMI, Click the SMI link for more information
  • you live in the home of with a close relative
  • you’re already claiming Universal Credit (unless you’re in temporary or supported housing)
  • you live with your partner and they are already claiming Housing Benefit
  • you’re a full-time student - unless you’re disabled
  •  you’re residing in the UK as a European Economic Area jobseeker, see European Econonmic Area for more information
  • you’re an asylum seeker or sponsored to be in the UK
  •  you’re subject to immigration control and your granted leave states that you cannot claim public funds
  • you’re a Crown Tenant
  • you’ve reached State Pension Credit age but your live-in partner has not - unless you had an existing claim as a couple before 15 May 2019

You may be able to get other help with housing costs, please see Help with housing costs if not, you’ll need to claim Universal Credit instead.

Housing Benefit can help you pay your rent if you’re unemployed, on a low income or claiming benefits. It’s being replaced by Universal Credit.

If you’re in supported, sheltered or temporary housing, you can apply for Universal Credit to help with other living costs.

Please click the Universal Credit link for more information.

The Benefit Cap

The benefit cap limits the amount of benefit that most people can receive in welfare benefits. This could have a significant effect on the amount of Housing Benefit or Universal Credit you qualify for because the deduction is taken from the housing element of Universal Credit or from Housing Benefit.

Claimants receiving PIP or Disability Living Allowance, Working Tax Credits, Attendance Allowance or the support component of Employment and Support Allowance will not be subject to the cap.

Please see Benefit Cap for further details.

The benefit cap outside Greater London is:

  • £384.62 per week (£20,000 a year) if you’re in a couple
  • £384.62 per week (£20,000 a year) if you’re a single parent and your children live with you
  • £257.69 per week (£13,400 a year) if you’re a single adult

The benefit cap inside Greater London is:

  • £442.31 per week (£23,000 a year) if you’re in a couple
  • £442.31 per week (£23,000 a year) if you’re a single parent and your children live with you
  • £296.35 per week (£15,410 a year) if you’re a single adult

New Size Criteria for the Social Rent Sector – the ‘Bedroom Tax'

If you are currently renting from a housing association or council and you have more bedrooms than the government says you need, then you may lose some of your Housing benefit or the housing element of your Universal Credit entitlement; the reduction is:

  • 14% of the ‘eligible rent’ for 1 spare bedroom
  • 25% of the ‘eligible rent’ for 2 or more spare bedrooms

Housing Benefit will not pay for any rooms that are above your housing need, for working age people, for example; If your children have left home and you are under occupying a property. Please click housing benefit for further Information.

Pensioners are exempt from this scheme. However if they are part of a Mixed Aged Couple (this is where one member of the couple has reached State Pension Credit Age and the other is below this age), they are not exempt.

If you are unsure how your housing benefit or Universal Credit is going to be affected, please contact your local council’s benefits department or Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)