The amount of benefit you get depends on:
- how much money you have coming in
- the amount of savings you have
- your personal circumstances
- the maximum rent for your property (Housing Benefit)
- your weekly amount of Council Tax (Council Tax Benefit)
- the area you live in.
In order to work out your benefit, we compare the money you have coming in each week against the money you need to live on. The amount you need to live on is worked out using fixed amounts called personal allowances and premiums.
We may take into account:
- your age
- any disabilities or special needs you have, and
- the number of dependants living with you
The rent used to work out your benefit depends on the type of tenancy you have.
If you live in a council house then benefit will be worked out using the rent for that property.
If you have a regulated tenancies with registered rent (i.e. tenancies that started before 15th January 1989), or a tenancy with a registered provider of social housing (not including Horton Housing Association), we will work out your benefit using the rent for that property less any ineligble service charges.
Rents for mobile homes, caravans and houseboats will be referred to our rent service for a rent valuation to use in your benefit calculation. However, before deciding to take the tenancy of a mobile home, caravan or houseboat, you can ask for a pre-tenancy determination to find out how much rent we will use to work out your benefit.
Private tenancy claims not included above and change of address claims from 7th April 2008 will use the local housing allowance rate that applies to you.
Private tenants with existing claims will continue to have benefit calculated using the rent service valuation if you have been continuously in receipt of benefit at the same address since before 7th April 2008. This will run for 12 months, unless there is a significant change to the property or the number of people in the household for which a revised valuation will be required.
How much benefit will you get?
Before you decide to move into a privately rented property, you can find out how much rent we will use to work out your benefit by checking the local housing allowance rates that will apply to you.
Until we have all the necessary information and evidence to process your claim we cannot tell you exactly how much benefit you will get.
However because we understand this may cause people difficulties we offer a service called a trial assessment. With a trial assessment, we can tell you approximately how much you may qualify for. This may help you to decide whether you need to start to pay some rent or council tax and to plan your finances.
When we work out your benefit we take into account:
- the money you have coming in each week
- the total amount of savings and investments you have
- who lives in your household
- the amount of rent and/or council tax you have to pay
You can work out your benefit entitlement by using an online benefits calculator.
We cannot pay benefit for:
Housing Benefit does not pay for mortgage repayments. You may wish to contact the Social Security Office who may be able to help you if you are on Income Support or Jobseeker's Allowance.
Service charges included in your rent
If the rent you pay includes amounts for water rates, electricity, gas or other fuel, or meals, then the benefit you will get will not pay for these. There may be other charges included in the rent. You can ask us about any other charges if you aren't sure whether Housing Benefit will cover these.
If you have someone who is over 18 years of age living with you and they are not your partner, we usually have to make a deduction from your benefit. This deduction is based on their gross income and you may have to provide evidence of this.
If you cannot provide evidence we may reduce your benefit by the maximum deduction for a non-dependant. This may mean that you will not qualify for benefit.
A deduction will not be made if, for example, the non-dependant is under 18 or you or your partner receives Attendance Allowance.
Where a claimant or partner is 65 or over and a non-dependant joins your household, we will delay the non-dependant deduction for 26 weeks. This also applies when a non-dependant already living with you has a change in income that would normally mean an increase in the deduction already being made.
You must still tell us about any changes relating to non-dependants. For further advice please contact the Customer Services Team.
Can I get any additional help?
If you are getting Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Support but still find it difficult to pay your rent and/or council tax, you may be able to get extra help towards your housing costs in the form of a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP). These are not benefit payments, but are paid in addition to your benefit and are based on your circumstances.
You can only apply for a DHP if you are already receiving Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Support and that benefit does not cover the full amount of rent or council tax liability.
DHPs cannot pay for the services included in your rent like fuel, water, electricity, or arrears of rent and council tax.
We use discretion in awarding DHPs, as the money available for these is limited. They are only awarded where we feel there is genuine need. DHPs should not be relied upon as a permanent solution to your shortfall in income.