Housing benefit

Last updated: 17/02/2020

No new claims can be made for this benefit. If you are getting housing benefit at the moment you will continue to do so until your circumstances change or you are invited to claim universal credit instead.

Depending on your circumstances you may get housing benefit to help pay your rent. 

Related content

What financial help is available to pay my rent?
Read more

The amount of help you get is based on your income including earnings, tax credits, the number of adults and children in the house, your rent and where you stay.

You will not get help to pay your rent if you have savings or capital over £16,000. If you have savings or capital between £6,000 and £16,000 any help with rent will be reduced. Capital includes property you own that is not the house you live in and some one-off payments such as statutory redundancy.

Housing benefit for a council or housing association property 

If you are receiving income support, income-based jobseekers allowance, income related employment and support allowance and you are not working you are likely to have your rent paid in full if you rent a council or housing association property with the appropriate number of rooms. If you are working your income may reduce the amount of housing benefit you get.

Housing benefit to a private landlord

Help with rent for privately rented property is calculated on the maximum amount the local council decides is right for that property. This is called the local housing allowance or LHA. The amount is based on the number of rooms the council says you need and is different in each local authority area. If your rent is over the LHA you will have that extra amount to pay even if you qualify for full help with your rent.

For example, if your rent is £150 per week and the LHA for your circumstances is £120 per week the most you will get towards your rent is £120. This amount may also be reduced if you are working.

Bedroom subsidy (‘bedroom tax’)

Council and housing association tenants who have extra bedrooms in their properties now lose part of their housing benefit. This is called the bedroom subsidy or bedroom tax. If you have one extra bedroom, you will lose 14% of your housing benefit. If you have two or more extra bedrooms, you will lose 25% of your housing benefit.

If you are entitled to housing benefit, you can apply for a discretionary housing payment (see below) to cover this loss.

Pensioners, carers, overnight carers, approved foster carers, parents of adult children in the Armed Forces and still living with their parents, people in shared ownership properties and people living in caravan or houseboats are exempt from the bedroom subsidy.

Discretionary housing payments

If you have a shortfall between your housing benefit and the rent you pay – including the bedroom subsidy (see above) – you can apply for a discretionary housing payment to cover it. You must be entitled to housing benefit in order to apply for a discretionary housing payment.

Ask for a discretionary housing payment form from your local council housing.

For more details on information see housing options.