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How Housing Benefit is worked out

Housing Benefit is 'means tested' - this means we compare your weekly income and your 'needs figure' to work out what you're entitled to.

Your 'needs figure'

Your 'needs figure' includes an amount for:

  • you
  • your partner
  • any dependant children
  • if you're of Pension Credit age

It may also include extra amounts if you're:

  • sick
  • disabled
  • a carer

We may also take into account other income you receive, such as:

  • savings
  • other benefits
  • pensions

However, we don't take some income, such as Disability Living Allowance, into account.

Your Housing Benefit entitlement

How we calculate your entitlement:

  • if your income is less than your needs figure, you may get maximum Housing Benefit
  • if your income is greater than your needs figure, we'll reduce your weekly Housing Benefit by 65 pence for every extra £1.00 of income you have
  • if you have a 'non-dependant' living with you, such as a grown-up child or elderly relative, we may reduce the benefit you receive

Use our online calculator and claim form to work out how much you could be entitled to and claim online.

What Housing Benefit covers

Council or housing association tenants

If you're a council or housing association tenant, Housing Benefit only covers your basic rent - this is called your 'eligible rent'.

We take charges for some services off your rent before we work out your Housing Benefit, for example:

  • water charges
  • fuel charges
  • meals
  • cleaning
  • laundry

The amount we take off is either the amount you pay or, if this is not known, a fixed amount set by the government.

Private tenants

We'll work out your benefit using the Local Housing Allowance if:

  • you're a private tenant
  • you made your initial claim on or after 7 April 2008

We'll work out your benefit using a rent figure provided by the Rent Service (which may be lower than the actual rent you pay) if:

  • you're a private tenant
  • you made your initial claim before 7 April 2008

Housing Benefit restrictions

We may restrict the amount of benefit you receive if:

  • your rent is unreasonably expensive or high
  • your home is bigger than you and your family need
  • your rent is at the ‘top end’ of the market
  • your rent is higher than average for rents of similar sized accommodation in your area

If your tenancy began before 15 January 1989, you'll usually be protected by the Rent Act 1977. Under this Act, you have the right to register for a Fair Rent meaning that your Housing Benefit shouldn't be restricted.

Also see

Benefits appointments

Contact us for an appointment to get benefits advice in person at West Offices.

Make an appointment