- What is housing benefit?
- How much will you get?
- How much will you get for social rent?
- What happens with under-occupied rooms?
- Show me a real life housing benefit example
- What can I claim a bedroom for?
- How is housing benefit paid?
- How do I know if I’m eligible?
- Who isn’t eligible?
- What do I do if my circumstances change?
- How do I claim housing benefit?
- What else do I need to know?
Housing benefit is a government funded benefit that can help you pay your rent if you are on a low income. The benefit is paid by the local authority and can pay for part of or for all of your rent. How much you get completely depends on your income and circumstances.
You can apply for housing benefit whether you are unemployed or whether you’re working – if you need assistance to pay your rent, housing benefit can help.
However, housing benefit can’t be used to pay for heating, hot water, energy or food – or if you need help with heating, hot water or food, our specialist team can help you find out what you might be entitled to.
There’s no set amount of housing benefit. How much you get depends on a few factors:
- If you rent privately or from a social landlord like DGHP
- Whether you have unoccupied rooms and live in social housing like a DGHP property
- Your household income and circumstances (including your partner’s)
You might get help with all of your rent, or you may only get help with part of your rent. This government online benefits adviser tool can help you work out what you are likely to get.
How much housing benefit you get depends on:
- Your ‘eligible’ rent – eg what’s a reasonable rent for a suitable property in Dumfries and Galloway
- Your household income
- Your circumstances (that’s things like your age; your family and their ages; if anyone in your family is disabled; or the number of rooms you don’t use)
- If you have any services charges to pay like stair cleaning or communal facilities
From April 2013, if you live in social housing properties like a DGHP home and the government deem you as having at least 1 extra bedroom in your home, your housing benefit could be cut.
Your housing benefit could be cut by:
- 14% of your ‘eligible rent’ if you have one extra bedroom;
- Or cut by 25% of your ‘eligible rent’ if you have two or more extra bedrooms
The reduction is worked out based on your eligible rent, not on your housing benefit.
Your eligible rent is £100 per week, just to keep things simple.
Of this, housing benefit pays £50 of your rent and you pay £50.
You have one extra bedroom so the reduction is 14%.
This means your housing benefit will be reduced by £14 per week.
You can claim 1 bedroom for:
- each single adult
- each couple
- all children of the same gender under 16
- all children under 10 (regardless of gender)
- each disabled tenant
- each partner needing an external overnight carer
- all foster children (also applies when no foster children live with you as long as the room isn’t empty for more than 52 weeks)
- each foster child that can’t share a bedroom because of a disability or medical condition
- each adult child in the Armed Forces or each reservist
- all external carers who provide overnight care for you or your partner
Housing benefit is paid by Dumfries and Galloway Council straight into your rent account, you will not receive the money.
You may get housing benefit if:
- You pay rent
- You’re on a low income or are claiming benefits
- Your savings are below a certain level – usually £16,000
You can apply for housing benefit if you are in work or if you are unemployed, but if you live with a partner, only one of you can get housing benefit.
Usually, you won’t get housing benefit if:
- your savings are over £16,000 – unless you get Guarantee credit of Pension Credit
- you live in the home of a close relative
- you’re a full-time student – unless you’re disabled or have children
- you’re an asylum seeker or sponsored to be in the UK
You need to tell Dumfries and Galloway Council as soon as possible if your circumstances change. Your personal circumstances affect how much housing benefit you are entitled to.
What we mean when we say ‘circumstances change’ is things like, one of your children leave school, your rent changes or you go away from home for more than one month.
If you are a new tenant:
If you are a new tenant, you will be given assistance by your neighbourhood manager to complete your housing benefit application form when you sign up for your new tenancy.
You can ask for assistance to complete an application at any time. If you need any further help, please contact us on 0800 011 3447.
If you are claiming other benefits:
Contact Jobcentre Plus to claim Housing Benefit with your claim for the following benefits:
- Employment and Support Allowance
- Income Support
- Jobseeker’s Allowance
Jobcentre Plus will send details of your claim for Housing Benefit to your local council.
Telephone: 0800 055 6688
Textphone: 0800 023 4888
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
If you are claiming Pension Credit:
Contact the Pension Service to claim Housing Benefit with your claim for Pension Credit.
The Pension Service will send details of your claims for Housing Benefit to your local council.
Telephone: 0800 99 1234
Textphone: 0800 169 0133
Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm
Saturday, 9am to 1pm
If you’re not claiming other benefits:
You can complete a housing benefit claim for here on Dumfries and Galloway Council’s website.
If you need any assistance to complete the form, please contact our Customer Service Centre immediately and we will support you through the application process.
You might be able to get your claim backdated – this is dealt with by Dumfries and Galloway Council.
You can claim in advance by up to 13 weeks (or 17 weeks if you’re 60 years old or over). This can be helpful for anyone moving, you won’t usually get any money before you move.
You can also appeal a decision. You can ask Dumfries and Galloway Council to reconsider your housing benefit decision.
Don’t delay in applying
Don’t delay applying for housing benefit. If DGHP or Dumfries and Galloway Council can’t complete an application form at a time when you call into the office or phone for an application form, then you should be supplied with a receipt showing that you made a claim that day. If your appointment is not until 2 weeks later your claim will still start on the day that you actually contacted for assistance.
If you are making a claim at the Job Centre Plus for benefits such as Jobseekers Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Pension Credit then your claim for Housing Benefit should be completed at the same time and passed to Dumfries and Galloway Council to process. This will save you making a separate Housing Benefit application.
If you are already in receipt of any of these benefits you should supply your letter from the Job Centre Plus. Don’t worry if you can’t, Dumfries and Galloway Council has access to this information and can confirm the details directly with the Department of Work and Pensions.
What happens next?
Dumfries and Galloway Council might then write out to you if they need further information. You should supply this information as quickly as possible. If you are not sure about anything, you can contact the council or DGHP and we will try to assist you.
Your entitlement to housing benefit will be calculated by the council and they will issue a notification to you. Payment of housing benefit can be direct into your rent account.
Discretionary housing benefit
If you do qualify for maximum housing benefit and still have some rent to pay, you might find it difficult to pay the shortfall between the rent and the housing benefit award. If you are struggling financially you can ask for more help and get a discretionary housing payment.
This is separate from your housing benefit award. This is a fund held by Dumfries and Galloway Council to assist those who need more help to pay their rent. You can ask for an application form from the council or DGHP. Dumfries and Galloway Council will probably ask you to provide details of your expenses (i.e. the money that you pay out each week for food, electricity, gas etc).
Overpaid housing benefit
If you delay telling Dumfries and Galloway Council about changes, then you may be overpaid housing benefit. The council will recover the amount overpaid either by issuing you with an invoice for payment or deducting a set amount from your current entitlement to housing benefit. This means you will have more rent to pay. If you do not pay the shortfall your rent account will be in arrears.
We are here to help
Get in touch with DGHP’s Customer Service Centre or your neighbourhood manager on 0800 011 3447 if you need assistance with anything concerning housing benefit. Don’t hesitate or delay as you may lose money.