How housing benefit is worked out

Planned maintenance to payments system

We're making essential updates to our payments system from 1pm on Thurs 19 October to midday on Fri 20 October. We apologise that we won't be able to take online or telephone payments during this time

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

Housing benefit is 'means tested'

Housing benefit is 'means tested - to work out your entitlement we compare your weekly income and your 'needs figure'.

We may also consider your savings, other benefits and pensions you may receive. However, some income such as disability living allowance is not counted.

Your 'needs figure'

Your 'needs figure' includes an amount for you and your partner, with additions for dependant children or being of pension credit age. It may include extra amounts if you are sick or disabled, or a carer.

Your housing benefit 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 your weekly housing benefit is reduced by 65p for each 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 this may reduce the benefit you receive

What housing benefit covers

Council or housing association tenants

If you are a council or housing association tenant, then housing benefit only covers your basic rent. This is called your 'eligible rent'.

Charges for some services are taken off your rent before we work out your housing benefit, for example:

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

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

Private tenants

If you are a private tenant and your claim was made on or after 7 April 2008, we will work out your benefit using the Local Housing Allowance.

If you are a private tenant and your claim was made before 7 April 2008, we will work out your benefit using a rent figure provided by the Rent Service which may be lower than the actual rent you pay.

Housing benefit restrictions

The benefit you receive may be restricted 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 more than average for rents of similar sized accommodation in your area

However if your tenancy began before 15 January 1989, you will usually be protected by the Rent Act. Under this Act you have the right to have a Fair Rent registered meaning that your housing benefit shouldn't be restricted.

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