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How do we work out housing benefits?

To work out your benefit, we must compare the money you have coming in each week with the money the government says you need to live on. The benefit application form you complete asks all the questions we need answered in order to work out if you qualify for benefit.

How much housing benefit you get depends on:

  • Your savings
  • money you have coming in
  • money the government thinks you need to live on
  • rent you pay
  • and any other adults who may live in your home.

If you have a partner, we must also take account of their personal details.

If you get Income Support, ESA (IR), JSA (IB) or Pensions Credit (Guarantee Credit), we help with your net rent, less any deduction for other adults living with you. If you don't get Income Support, ESA (IR), JSA (IB) or Pension Credit (Guarantee Credit), we compare your weekly income against your applicable amount. If your income is less than your applicable amount, we help with all your net rent, less any deduction for adults living with you. If your income is more than your applicable amount, the help we give with your net rent (less any deduction for adults) goes down on a sliding scale of 65p for each £1 difference.

Savings

If you and your partner have combined savings of more than £16,000, you may not get housing benefit.

If you and your partner have savings of £6,000 or less, we will ignore them in working out your benefit.

For every £250.00 in savings you have above £6,000, the rules say we must add £1.00 onto your weekly income.

For pensioners £10,000 is disregarded and for every £500.00 we must add £1.00 onto your weekly income.

We ignore any actual interest your savings earn.

How much money you have coming in

The money you and your family have coming in may be earnings or unearned income, such as social security benefits or pensions from work.

We can ignore certain parts of your Disability Living Allowance or War Pensions. However you must still tell us about them.

How much money you need to live on

Parliament sets the minimum level of income you must have after paying your rent. This is called your applicable amount. Your applicable amount is made up of personal allowance and premiums.

Personal allowances depend on:

  • your age
  • whether you are single or have a partner
  • how many dependant children you have and their ages

Premiums recognise that some people have special or extra needs, such as:

  • families
  • elderly people
  • people with a disability
  • carers - people who look after sick and disabled people.

We add the personal allowances and premiums together to give the amount of money the government considers you need to live on. We cannot alter them.

How much rent you pay

We can only count your net or basic rent, for help with housing benefit.

Many rents include charges for services such as:

  • water rates
  • garages
  • heating, lighting, hot water, fuel for cooking
  • meals

These charges don't usually qualify for help.

Council tenant

In most cases we can use your full net rent when we work out your housing benefit.

Housing Association tenants

In most cases we can use you full net rent when we work out your housing benefit. If we think your rent is too high we may not use the full net rent to work out your entitlement.

Private tenants

From July 2005 benefit claims from customers renting in the private sector have been assessed under the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) scheme. The level of a customers' potential benefit entitlement is based on rent levels for the area in which they live and how many people live with them.

There are special rules for single people under 25 that mean they are only entitled to a 'shared room' rate of LHA.

Customers not affected by LHA include those living in housing association, local authority and charity accommodation as well as pre-1989 tenancies, caravans, mobile homes, hostels and cases where there is a substantial board and lodging.

If you would like to know more about Local Housing Allowance, please contact us using the details are at the bottom of this page or visit our  Local Housing Allowance page.

Other adults who live with you

If you have other adults living in your home, they may be expected to pay something towards the rent.

The rules say we must make fixed deductions from the net rent. In some situations, no deductions are made.