- 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 calculator 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.
If you are unsure contact us for some advice on 0800 011 3447.
Usually, you won’t get housing benefit if:
- your savings are over £16,000 – unless you get Guaranteed Credit 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 and your partner, if you have one, are under Pension Credit age. In this instance you would need to apply for Universal Credit instead.
If you are already in receipt of Housing Benefit, 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 4 weeks.
If you are a new tenant:
If you are a new tenant, you will only be able to apply for Housing Benefit if:
- you are already in receipt of housing benefit and your change of circumstance is that you have moved within Dumfries and Galloway and need help to pay your rent at your new address also.
- You and your partner, if you have one, are of Pension Credit age and need help towards paying your rent.
If you are eligible to claim Housing Benefit then your neighbourhood manager will be able to assist you with your application when you sign up for your new tenancy.
If you are a new tenant and the above does not apply, you will have to make a claim for Universal Credit.
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.
Claims can also be made online then selecting Apply for benefits.
If you are making a claim for other benefits:
If you are making a claim with the Job Centre/DWP /HMRC for the following:
- Employment and Support Allowance (Income Related)
- Income Support
- Jobseeker’s Allowance (Income Based)
- Tax Credits
You will need to make a claim for Universal Credit and as part of this you will have to apply for help towards your housing costs (previously was housing benefit). You can make a claim for Universal Credit online at https://www.gov.uk/apply-universal-credit
If you need help to apply for Universal Credit then contact us on 0800 011 3447 and ask for a referral to our SWITCH team who can help you. View DGHP’s information on Universal Credit here.
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
Alternatively, you can apply for Housing Benefit direct with Dumfries and Galloway Council. You can do this online here. However, you will still need to make sure that you claim Pension Credit with the Pension Service.
Your neighbourhood manager will also be able to assist you with an application for Housing Benefit if you need assistance to do this.
If you’re not claiming other benefits:
You can complete a claim for housing benefit on Dumfries and Galloway Council’s website so long as you are able to claim Housing Benefit. If you and your partner, if you have one, are below Pension Credit age then you will need to make a claim for Universal Credit rather than Housing Benefit.
If you need any assistance to complete the housing benefit form, please contact our Customer Service Centre immediately and we will support you through the application process.
Likewise, if it is Universal Credit that you have to apply for you can also contact us for support through the application process.
You might be able to get your claim backdated – this is dealt with by Dumfries and Galloway Council. (In most cases a claim can only be backdated by one month so it’s important to claim as quickly as possible.)
You can also make a 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 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 you think you would be eligible for this. 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 for what was Jobseekers Allowance (Income Based), Employment and Support Allowance (Income Related), Income Support, then your claim for Housing Benefit will be part of your Universal Credit claim and will be paid to you by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and not Dumfries and Galloway Council.
I don’t know if I should be applying for Housing Benefit or Universal Credit?
If you are not sure what benefit that you should be applying for contact us and ask to speak to your neighbourhood manager or a member of our SWITCH team and we will be able to advise you on what you should claim.
What happens next?
If you apply for Housing Benefit with Dumfries and Galloway Council, they might 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.
If you had to apply for Universal Credit instead of Housing Benefit, the DWP may ask you for more information. They will do this through your online journal. You should provide them with the information as quickly as possible. If you are not sure about anything, you can contact your work coach/case manager or us and we will try and assist you.
Discretionary housing payment (DHP)
If you do qualify for maximum housing benefit or universal credit 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 or universal credit 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; you can also make an application online. Dumfries and Galloway Council will 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. If you are struggling to pay this shortfall, contact us for advice as we may be able to help.
If you are in receipt of Universal Credit you must report changes to them straight away using your online journal. If you fail to do so then you may be overpaid. The DWP will look to recover the amount overpaid directly from you, either by reducing future payments of your Universal Credit or by writing to you to request the money back.
We are here to help
Get in touch with DGHP’s Customer Service Centre, your neighbourhood manager, or our SWITCH team on 0800 011 3447 if you need assistance with anything concerning housing benefit or universal credit. Don’t hesitate or delay as you may lose money.