The benefits system is changing for people of working age, and over the next few years, new claims for help with rent will usually be for Universal Credit. If you have an existing claim for Housing Benefit, this will usually carry on until you have a change of circumstances which would require a new claim.
Pensioners are not affected by this change and will continue to get Housing Benefit.
People in temporary accommodation or in certain accommodation where counselling and support is provided will receive Housing Benefit instead of Universal Credit (UC) for help with their rent.
Find out more about Universal Credit and how it is changing.
Housing Benefit for working age people is only available for new claims if you are a severely disabled person and you receive a 'severe disability premium' in one of your existing benefits, or this stopped within the last month.
If you are already on Housing Benefit and you move home within the same local authority area, this is not a new claim and your Housing Benefit should continue.
If you (and your partner if you have one) are over pension age, you can claim Housing Benefit.
Housing Benefit is available if you are a tenant on a low income – you can claim if you are in or out of work. How much help you get with rent depends on how much you are liable to pay and on your weekly income.
You can claim Housing Benefit whether or not you're working. Usually you mustn't have over £16,000 in savings, but pensioners who receive the 'Guarantee Credit' of Pension Credit are exempt from this.
If you get Income Support, Income based Jobseeker's Allowance, Income Related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Guarantee Pension Credit, you'll usually get the maximum possible help with your rent.
The maximum possible help does not always cover the full rent if you are of working age – seek advice.
Help with rent on Universal Credit
If you're of working age and you receive Universal Credit your housing costs will be included in your benefit payment. Housing costs under Universal Credit work similarly to Housing Benefit and can be limited in the same way as Housing Benefit so that your benefit may not your full rent.
Discretionary Housing Payments
If you get help with your rent from Housing Benefit or Universal Credit and you need further help with housing costs (for example, your benefit doesn't cover the full rent and you are struggling to make up the difference), you can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment from your local authority.
Help with mortgage interest
If you are a home owner and you receive ‘means tested’ benefits, you may qualify for help with the interest on your mortgage - this is in the form of a repayable loan, secured on your home. For more details of how mortgage interest support works, contact our helpline.
Help with Council Tax
You may be able to reduce your Council Tax bill by applying for a discount on your bill – for instance if you live alone or someone who lives with you is permanently disabled. Discounts are based on your circumstances, not your income or savings.
You may also be able to claim means-tested Council Tax support, if you are on benefits or another form of low income.
In exceptional cases of hardship, your Local Authority may be able to give additional, discretionary help.
For more details of help with Council Tax, see the web pages of your local authority.
District and borough council details
You can find out more about Housing Benefit and Council Tax on your local district or borough council website:
Contact us by email: email@example.com or phone the Benefits Helpline, tel: 01629 531535, on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 11am to 4pm.