Advice On Claiming Housing Benefit

Who can claim? - What does it cover? - How do I claim? - How is it worked out? - Customer Information

What is Housing Benefit?

Housing Benefit may help you to pay your rent if you are on a low income. There are two types

  • If you are a tenant of a private landlord you may be able to claim Rent Allowance. This would be paid to you by cheque
  • If you are a council tenant you may be able to claim Rent Rebate. Your rent would be reduced by the amount of your Housing Benefit

Even if you are not receiving any other Social Security benefits you may still be able to get Housing Benefit.

Housing Benefit cannot help with mortgage payments. If you own a property you may be able to get help with the interest payments on your mortgage from Income Support. Contact Jobcentre Plus for details.

Who can claim?

You can receive Housing Benefit if you have a low income and you have to pay rent.

You could:

  • be employed, self-employed or not in work
  • be single or have a partner
  • live alone or with other people
  • be a pensioner

You don’t:

  • need to have paid National Insurance (NI)
  • have to be a British Citizen

You could live in:

  • council housing
  • private rented accommodation
  • other types of rented accommodation

Students

Most full-time Students do not qualify for Housing Benefit. There are exceptions, including students who are disabled and those with dependent children. Ask Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar, Benefit Section for further details.

What does Housing Benefit cover?

Housing Benefit can help with the part of the rent you have to pay just to live in your home. The amount you have to pay your landlord may be more than this if it includes other charges for heating and so on.

These are the things Housing Benefit cannot help with:

  • the cost of fuel for heating, hot water, lighting and cooking
  • the cost of meals
  • water charges
  • service charges for things such as personal laundry and household cleaning
  • deposits for securing accommodation

Housing Benefit can help with service charges which your rent includes for the use of communal facilities such as:

  • children’s play areas
  • shared areas for cleaning
  • lift

How do I claim?

  • If you make a claim for Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance fill in the Housing Benefit form included with the Income Support form and return it to Jobcentre Plus, they will send it to us
  • If you already receive Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance and have just become responsible for paying rent or have moved to different rented accommodation, claim Housing Benefit direct from us. Ask Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar, Benefit Section for a form
  • If you do not claim Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance you should claim Housing Benefit from us. Ask Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar

When to claim

You should claim as soon as you think you need to. Housing Benefit cannot normally be backdated so you could lose money if you delay in claiming (even if, in special circumstances, a claim is backdated it cannot be for more than 6 months).

Couples

If you are married and normally live with your partner or if you are unmarried and live with one partner as husband or wife, you should make one claim for both of you and not two separate claims (you can chose who makes the claim)

What information does Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar's Benefit Section need from me?

1. If you receive Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance

The form you fill in will ask for details about the people who live with you. If you are a private tenant we need to know about where you live and what is included in the rent you pay.

2. If you don’t receive Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance

The form you fill in will ask for details about the people who live with you. We need to find out how much money you have coming in and work out how much the law says you need to live on. We can then work out how much Housing Benefit you can receive.

If you receive contributions based on Job Seekers Allowance we need to know all your partners other income and savings

Money coming in

To find out how much money you have coming in we need details of your earnings, unearned income and any savings you have between £3,000 and £16,000.

Earnings - means all the money you receive for working after taking away your Tax and National Insurance payments and half of any contributions you make to a pension scheme.

Unearned Income - is any other money you have coming in. It includes most Social Security benefits but not Mobility Allowance, Attendance Allowance and Disability Living Allowance.

Savings - include such things as money held in Banks and Building Societies, stocks and shares, National Savings Certificates and Bonds, property investments (apart from your home) and money you may have overseas.

  • If your savings total less than £3,000 they will not affect how much housing benefit you can receive
  • If your savings total more than £16,000 you will not be able to receive housing benefit
  • If you have between £3,000 and £16,000 in savings we have to assume that you have money coming in from this – between £1.00 and £52.00 per week depending on the amount of your savings. We will take this into account when working out your Housing Benefit. If you are claiming with your partner we have to take account of both your savings added together

How is my Housing Benefit worked out?

If you are receiving Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance and you pay rent you will normally get maximum Housing Benefit. However, you may get less if you have people living with you other than children on child benefit, your partner, sub-tenants and joint tenants.

If you don't receive Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance

We use the allowances and premiums set by Government to assess how much you need to live on.

Allowances take into account basic day to day living expenses for:

  • Single People
  • Couples
  • Children

Premiums take into account special needs for:

  • Families
  • Senior Citizens
  • People with Disabilities
  • Carers
  • One Parent Families

We add up the amount of allowances and premiums that apply to you. If this is the same or more than the money you have coming in you should receive the maximum Housing Benefit. (However, you may get less if you have people living with you other than children on Child Benefit, your partner, sub-tenant and joint-tenants). If the money you have is more than the total amount of allowances and premiums that apply to you then your Housing Benefit is reduced.