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Can I claim housing benefit

Can I claim housing benefit
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Rent is generally one of the biggest monthly costs for any household. Many people assume that you can only claim housing benefit if you’re out of work and claiming other benefits. However, this isn’t always the case and some people on low incomes are also eligible. If you’re entitled to housing benefit it could make a big difference to your monthly budget.

Who qualifies for housing benefit?

Housing benefit comes from the local authority and is designed to fully or partially cover your rent. All forms of rent are eligible, including council, housing association and private properties. According to figures from the Department for Work and Pensions, over one million people are not claiming housing benefit when they should be entitled to it. This amounts to around £3.1 billion every year.

Those people on benefits, including income based Jobseekers Allowance (JSA), that are means tested will automatically be entitled. It is also available to those on a low income. When you apply for this benefit, the council will assess if you have enough money to survive each month once you have paid for your rent. If you want to see if you might be entitled to housing benefit or other financial help, then you can use the online benefits calculators as a guide.

When housing benefit won’t be paid

You will not generally be eligible if you have savings of more than £16,000 or you rent a room in the home of a close family member. In the majority of circumstances, full time students are not entitled, but there are some situations where this differs, as well as asylum seekers. Housing benefit can only be claimed in order to pay for rent, so those who own a property and pay a mortgage are not entitled. If you’re a couple, then you can only make a claim once and both sets of circumstances will be used to determine your eligibility.

Can I claim housing benefit

Housing benefit rates

If you’re entitled to housing benefit, the amount you receive will depend on the local rates and the number of bedrooms you’re eligible for. The final rate may also be reduced in line with your income. Those in council and housing association properties can have their benefit reduced if you are classed as having a spare bedroom. If there is a difference between your rent and the amount of housing benefit, then you will need to cover this yourself. Those people who are on certain benefits will automatically receive their maximum entitlement.

The benefit is paid directly to private tenants in arrears. Social housing tenants will have it automatically put into their rent account. New claimants should receive their first payment in 14 days, but there could be a delay in this process. When you’re applying, it’s important to provide all the necessary information and keep a copy of any forms to prove you submitted the claim.

Claiming housing benefit

You can make a claim for housing benefit directly with Jobcentre Plus if you claim JSA, Income Support or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). All other applicants will need to go through your local authority’s housing benefit department. They will all have a slightly different process, but their team will be able to direct you appropriately.

There are millions of pounds worth of benefits that remain unclaimed every year, usually because consumers don’t realise they’re entitled to them. It’s important to claim everything you’re eligible for, including housing benefit, as it will help to improve your financial situation.

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About Catherine Stern

About Catherine Stern

Catherine Stern is a freelance writer with a background in marketing and PR. She currently writes web content on a range of subjects, from finance and business to travel and home improvements. As a working single mum of two young boys she understands the pressures that today’s working parents face and the topics they want to read about.

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