These pages tell you how you can get help with paying your rent and Council Tax through the Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit schemes.
You may be able to get help with your rent if you are on other benefits, work part-time or work full-time on a low income. You cannot get Housing Benefit anymore if you are claiming Universal Credit or eligible to claim it. This is because your Universal Credit should include the Housing Element which replaces Housing Benefit and you are responsible for using this to pay your landlord. If you are of pensionable age or exempt currently from claiming Universal Credit, you can claim Housing Benefit (Local Housing allowance).
How is Housing Benefit worked out?
First we need to establish the weekly eligible rent to base the calculation of Housing Benefit on. This is based on the number of bedrooms your household needs, not necessarily the number of bedrooms you have. This is sometimes called the size criteria.
The Government allows a set rate of LHA based on the number of bedrooms. One bedroom is allowed each for:
- every adult couple (married or unmarried)
- any other adult over 16yrs (eg a single adult)
- any two children of the same sex, under the age of 16yrs
- any two children of either sex,under 10 yrs
- any other child
- A non-resident carer (from April 2011)
Example:- a couple who live in a three-bed roomed house with two children of the opposite sex, but both children under the age of 10yrs, would be assessed as needing two bedrooms and would therefore have their future LHA based on the rate for a two-bed roomed house.
In the above example, when the elder child reaches 10yrs the LHA rate would increase to the three-bedroom rate. This is because a bedroom would now be allowed for each child.
The next step is to establish the weekly eligible income from the claimant and his/her partner, if they are in a couple. This varies depending on what the income is and whether any income disregards apply.
Earners and self-employed
We would assess your weekly eligible income from earnings, based on at least 5 weekly or 2 monthly pay slips, if you are employed. These should ideally be the 5 weeks or 2 months prior to your claim date.
If you are self-employed, we would have to assess income based on a calculated net profit, not on any income you draw from the business. It is important to note that some business expenses are allowable for income tax purposes, but may not be in the calculation of Housing Benefit, so the net earnings from self-employment may be different to the net profit figure HMRC use. We use the profit/loss accounts for the previous year to assess the current year’s benefit. We can also accept your account books showing income and itemised expenses. However, this will always be evidence from a past period, to estimate your earnings for the coming benefit period. You should tell us if there is a change in the business or potential net profit, as soon as it occurs. Do not wait until your year end to notify us, or there could be an overpayment, of Housing Benefit which would have to be paid back.
We would need to know about any dependent children in the household, as some additional allowance is made for children. We would also need to know about any other adults in the household, which are over 18 years. This is because there could be a deduction from your entitlement for each non-dependent person. In order to apply the correct deduction you would have to provide evidence of their weekly income.