You may be able to get Housing Benefit if you are on other benefits, work part-time or work full-time on a low income. You cannot get Housing Benefit to help with the costs of a mortgage or home loan. If you are an owner-occupier, you may be able to get help with your mortgage interest through Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or Pension Credit.
Important changes to Housing Benefit
From April 2011 the Government made further changes to Housing Benefit (also called Local Housing Allowance), for tenants renting from a landlord in the private sector. Local Housing Allowances (LHA) are now worked out using an average of the cheapest 1/3 of properties in the area. This will start to reduce the amount of benefit you get on your next review date (usually 1 year after your first claim LHA).
From January 2012, this change will start to affect people who were already receiving LHA in April 2011 when the change came in. These people were protected on the "old rate" of LHA until the anniversary of their claim plus 9 months.
Also from January 2012, all single people who live alone and are under the age of 35 years, will have their Housing Benefit calculated based on the Local Housing Allowance rate for shared accommodation, regardless of how many bedrooms their property has. This could mean your benefit will reduce from the anniversary of your claim. Please see the Local Housing Allowance page for more details.
Will this affect me?
Yes, if you are renting a property from a private landlord and receiving Local Housing Allowance (LHA) payment.
What is changing?
- You will not be able to get more money for Housing Benefit than the rent you are charged.
- There will no longer be a five bedroom Local Housing Allowance rate. The maximum level is for a four bedroom property.
- The Government will reduce LHA rates to a lower amount, after April 2011, which will affect the amount of housing benefit you receive.
- Single people under the age of 35 years will only be able to get the shared accommodation rate from January 2012.
- New LHA rates based on the Governments lower amounts will be payable from the anniversary of your first claim for LHA plus 9 months. (first affected cases January 2012)
When will this affect me?
- If you are making a new claim to Housing Benefit or moving home, the changes will affect you from the date of your new or revised entitlement.
- If you are already claiming Housing Benefit you will continue to receive your current rate of LHA, or the rent you are charged (whichever is lower) for a further period of 9 months from the date that the local authority next reviews your local housing allowance rate. This is to allow you time to find cheaper property, or negotiate with your landlord to reduce the rent, if you decide you can not afford the difference in your rent.
- For instance if your next review is due in June 2011 you will continue to receive your current rate of local housing allowance until March 2012, at which date this will reduce to the new rates of local housing allowance.
The changes may affect you sooner if:
- You are getting Housing Benefit and move home.
- Your household changes - such as someone leaves or comes to live with you.
In these cases, the new level of LHA will apply from the date your circumstances change.
Where to go for more information
You can claim Housing Benefit (also known as Rent Rebate) if:
- You are on Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance or Employment Support Allowance.
- You are on a low income (this includes people who are self employed or if you have just been made redundant)
You cannot get Housing Benefit if:-
- You, or your partner between you, have more than £16,000 in savings (unless you get Pension Credit Guarantee credit).
A partner is someone you are married to, or someone you live with as if you are married to them. or a civil partner.
For information about Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance or other benefits visit the Useful Links page to get access to the Department for Work and Pensions pages.