Housing Benefit in England, Scotland and
Housing Benefit is money to help you with your housing
costs if you are on a low income. It can help with rent and
some service charges.
Applies to: England, Scotland and Wales
If you live in Northern Ireland, see our Housing Benefit (Northern Ireland) sheet.
Age rules: There are no age rules that affect
housing benefit entitlement
Type of benefit: Means-tested
Administered by: Your local council
You can read through this information sheet, or go directly to
the sections you want to read by clicking on these links:
Who does it help?
Housing Benefit is money paid by your local council to help you
with your housing costs, if you are on a low income.
You have to be the person who is responsible for paying the rent
to get Housing Benefit. It does not matter if your landlord is
a private landlord or a social landlord eg a council or housing
Housing Benefit does not cover a
mortgage. See Homeowner housing
costs help if you are a homeowner.
If you live with a partner, only one of you can claim
You do not qualify for Housing Benefit if you:
- live in the home of a close relative
- are a full-time student (unless you have a disability or have
What help does it provide?
It can help with rent and some service charges - although it
does not necessarily cover all your rent or housing
If you are a council tenant, you will not be paid Housing
Benefit directly. Instead it will be taken off the rent you
have to pay so you pay less rent, or no rent yourself.
If you have a private landlord, you will be paid straight into
your bank account. Sometimes the council can pay your
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How much does it pay?
If you get benefits like Income
Support, income-related Employment and
Support Allowance, income-based
Jobseeker’s Allowance, or the guarantee part of Pension Credit, you will get the maximum amount
of Housing Benefit, which could cover the whole of your rent.
Even if you are working, you might get some Housing Benefit to
cover some of your rent. This depends on your income and savings
and on your personal circumstances.
Remember that even if you get the maximum amount of Housing
Benefit, it will not necessarily cover all of your rent. See
details for private tenants and social tenants below and about the
benefit cap which may also affect the amount you can receive.
If you are a private tenant and you have made a new claim or
moved since 7 October 2008, how much rent can be paid by Housing
Benefit will be restricted by the Local Housing Allowance
There will be a LHA rate set based on rental prices in your
area and the size of property you are entitled to. For
example, if you are single, don't have any dependent children and
are aged under 35, in most cases you can only get Housing
Benefit based on one room in shared
This might mean that not all of your rent can be paid by Housing
Benefit because your home is larger than you need or too
If you are a private tenant visit the HB update website
(link opens in new window) to find out what your eligible
The Turn2us Benefits Calculator can calculate how
much Housing Benefit you may be entitled to.
If you rent your home from a social housing landlord such as the
council or a housing association, and you are of working age, your
Housing Benefit may be reduced if it's considered you have
more bedrooms than you actually need.
You are allowed one bedroom for each category shown below:
- each adult couple
- each person over 16
- two children of the same sex under 16
- two children under 10, regardless of their sex
- any other child
- an overnight carer you need but who doesn't normally live with
If your home is considered to be too big for you, the rent
amount used to calculate your Housing Benefit will be cut by:
- 14% if you have one spare bedroom
- 25% if you have two or more spare bedrooms.
Households protected from this reduction:
- Foster carers who have had a child placed with them, or have
registered as a carer, in the last 12 months
- Parents of armed forces personnel while their child is away on
- Parents of a severely disabled child unable to share a room
with a sibling
If you are over Pension Credit age
this size criteria does not affect your claim for Housing
The Benefit Cap will apply to people
of working age and it will put a limit on the total amount of
benefit that you can receive. The limits will be £500 for a
couple or lone parent and £350 for a single person. The cap
will be applied as a reduction in the amount of Housing
For example, if you have two children and
your weekly benefits covered by the cap (not including Housing
Benefit) add up to £400, the maximum amount of Housing Benefit you
can receive will be £100 so that you don't exceed the cap of
If your weekly benefits covered by
the cap (not including Housing Benefit) already add up to the
level of the benefit cap or more, you will receive only 50p a week
For a list of circumstances that will exempt
you from the Benefit Cap, and for further information see the
Turn2us benefit cap information sheet.
How do I make a claim?
You may be able to claim online if your local authority offers
You may be able to claim by telephone if your local authority
offers this facility.
Get a claim form by contacting your local authority Housing
If you are making a claim for Income Support, Income-related
Employment and Support Allowance, Income-based Jobseeker’s
Allowance, or Pension Credit you can claim Housing Benefit at the
same time, your details will be sent direct to your local
To make a claim, you may be able to fill in a shortened form
known as a 'rapid reclaim'. To fill in a rapid reclaim, you must
have made a claim for Income Support,
Incapacity Benefit or income-based Jobseeker's Allowance before,
within the last 26 weeks. You must also be claiming this benefit
again and your circumstances must not have changed since your last
What documents will I need?
When you claim Housing Benefit, you must give your national
insurance number and evidence of who you are, for example, a birth
certificate or driving licence. You also need to give
evidence that you must pay the rent, for example, your rent
book. If you are not claiming benefits like Income Support, you must give evidence of your
income and savings, for example, bank statements or pay slips.
Can it be backdated?
Housing Benefit can be backdated for up to six months if you
would have been entitled to it earlier. You have to show a good
reason for not claiming sooner. Request this when claiming.
If you or your partner are over Pension Credit age and you are not getting
Income Support or income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, your claim
can be backdated for up to three months. It does not matter why
your claim is late. Request this when claiming.
If you disagree with the decision made on your benefit claim you
can ask for a written statement of reasons. If you still believe
the decision is wrong, for example due to incorrect information
being used, you can ask for it to be looked at again, and/or
The time limits are strict; you will usually be given one
month to dispute a decision, so it is important to seek advice and
Further information on Challenges and
Change of circumstance
You must report changes in your circumstances
which might affect your entitlement to this benefit.
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Last updated: 28 March 2013