Understanding your award
How has my Housing Benefit been calculated?
Housing Benefit is a means tested benefit, which uses a number of factors to determine your entitlement. You will receive an award letter, which will provide you with a breakdown of your entitlement and the calculations used.
Everyone has a maximum amount of weekly income they can receive, before their income starts to affect their Housing Benefit. This amount varies depending on several elements such as age, family size, and special needs and is set by the Department of Works and Pensions.
This amount is called the applicable amount and is compared against your income and capital to work out how much Housing Benefit you are entitled to.
Housing Benefit also takes into account other factors such as tenancy type, number of bedrooms, income from other adults and other welfare reform criteria as set by the Department of Works and Pensions.
You may be entitled to the maximum amount of Housing Benefit if you get benefits like the following but this may not necessarily cover all of your rent.
- Income Support
- income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
- Guaranteed Pension Credit
Even if you are working, you might get some Housing Benefit to help towards your rent. This depends on your personal circumstances, income and savings.
If you have savings and capital above £16,000 you will not be entitled to Housing Benefit, unless you are of pension age and receive the guarantee element of pension credit.
If you are of working age, you can have up to £6,000 in capital or savings and this will not affect your award of Housing Benefit.
Any capital or savings you have worth between £6,000 and £16,000 will attract a deduction of £1 per week for every £250.
If you are of pension age, you can have up to £10,000 in capital or savings and this will not affect your award of Housing Benefit.
Any capital or savings you have worth between £10,000 and £16,000 will attract a deduction from your Housing Benefit of £1 per week for every £500.
Private tenants and working-age social tenants will have part of their Housing Benefit calculations based on how many bedrooms you are thought to need for your household. You are allowed one bedroom for each category shown below.
- Each adult couple
- Each person over 16
- Two children of the same sex under 16
- Two children under 10, regardless of their sex
- Any other child
- An overnight carer you need but who doesn't normally live with you
There is an additional category for private tenants who are single people, under age 35, with no children. If you fall within this category, you are only allowed one bedroom in shared accommodation, rather than a one bedroom property to yourself.
An additional bedroom allowance can be made under the size criteria rules if one of the following applies.
- Foster carers who have had a child placed with them, or have registered as a carer, in the last 12 months
- Parents of Armed Forces personnel - while their child is away on duty, their room won't be considered as 'spare' if they intend to return to it
- Parents of a disabled child in receipt of middle or high rate care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) - if they are unable to share a room with a sibling but would be expected to under normal size criteria rules
Factors taken into consideration when assessing whether a child’s disability makes it unreasonable for them to share a bedroom, are as follows.
- Whether the child is currently sharing a bedroom without difficulty;
- Whether the frequency and nature of any overnight care causes prolonged and/or repeated disruption to another child;
- Whether the nature of the disability increases the likelihood that the child may behave disruptively during the night;
- Whether sharing a bedroom poses a risk of physical harm to either child; and
- How long the situation is likely to last - to qualify for an extra bedroom, the inability to share would be expected to be long term.
Private Tenants and Local Housing Allowance
If you have made a new claim or moved since 7 April 2008 and are a private tenant, your Housing Benefit will be restricted by the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) which is set by Department of Work and Pensions and is based on rental prices in your area.
If your home is larger than you need or your rent is considered to be too expensive, your rent may not be covered in full by Housing Benefit.
Social tenants and Social Sector Size Criteria
If your landlord is a social housing landlord such as the council or a housing association, and you are of working age, your Housing Benefit is not based on rental prices in your area. If your home is larger than you need the 'Social Sector Size Criteria' rule applies.
Under this rule, the rent amount used to calculate your Housing Benefit will be cut by:
- 14 per cent if you have one spare bedroom
- 25 per cent if you have two or more spare bedrooms
If you are over Pension Credit age, this size criteria does not apply to your claim for Housing Benefit.
An adult person who normally lives in your house, who is not your partner may be a non-dependent. Non-dependents are expected to contribute towards your rent and/or Council Tax.
If you have other people living with you, and you are claiming Housing Benefit, your entitlement may be reduced by a non-dependent deduction.
Non-dependents can be the following:
- grown-up children who no-one receives child benefit for
- relatives or family friends staying with you without a formal tenancy agreement
People who are not non-dependents
- your partner
- foster children
- children you receive Child Benefit for
- lodger, boarder or tenant who pays you rent
- anyone who is jointly liable for the rent and/or Council Tax
- your live-in landlord
Deductions for non dependents
You will not have a deduction made from your Housing Benefit if your non- dependent if one of the following applies:
- you (or your partner) are certified blind or severely sight impaired
- you (or your partner) receive Attendance Allowance, the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP), the care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP).
You will also not have a deduction made from your Housing Benefit if your non- dependent if your non-dependent falls into one of the following categories:
- is a full time student; or
- is under 18; or
- is under 25 and getting ;
The non-dependent deduction is based on their income so it is important that you ensure that the council has accurate and up to date information about their income.
The Benefit Cap limits the total amount in some benefits that working-age people can receive. Housing Benefit is included in the Benefit Cap and so you may receive a decreased amount than what you may expect to.
The council will tell you if the Benefit Cap applies to your Housing Benefit calculations. If you would like further information on this, please see our Benefit Cap guide