Housing Benefit How Much Will You Get?

There are no set Housing Benefit rates - you might get all the rent paid or only part of it. Whether you rent from a council or 'privately' will determine how much Housing Benefit you get.

Rates for Council and Social Housing Rent

The amount you get when renting from a council or through social housing will depend on:

  • Whether there is a spare room in the home and your ‘eligible‘ rent.
  • The household circumstances (e.g. the age of people living in the house or whether there are any occupants with a disability).
  • The total amount of your household income (including any benefits, pensions, and savings over £6,000).

Note: A benefits calculator can help you work out how much Housing Benefit you might get. They are free to use, accurate, and independent of the government.

Definition of Eligible Rent

Eligible rent refers to the reasonable amount of rent for a suitable property in the area where you live. It does not include heating charges. But, it can include some service charges such as a communal laundry or for lift service maintenance.

How a Spare Bedroom affects Housing Benefit

If you live in council or social housing and have a spare bedroom your Housing Benefit can get reduced. As a rule, the amount of reduction for spare bedrooms would be:

  • 14% of the ‘eligible rent’ for one (1) spare bedroom.
  • 25% of the ‘eligible rent’ for two (2) or more spare bedrooms.
An Example: Supposing your eligible rent was £100 per week and your home has one spare bedroom.

According to Housing Benefit rules you might get £50 in benefits and you would pay the other £50.

The amount gets reduced by 14% because of the spare bedroom. In this example, the reduction to your Housing Benefit would be £14 per week.

Housing Benefit and Sharing Bedrooms

If you are going to claim Housing Benefit, the council would expect these ‘pairs’ to share a bedroom:

  • An adult couple.
  • Two (2) children under the age of 16 (same sex).
  • Two (2) children under the age of 10 (regardless of sex).

But, the following circumstances mean the council would expect them to have their own bedroom:

  • A single adult (age 16 or over).
  • A child that would usually share but shared bedrooms are already taken (e.g. having 3 children and 2 already share).
  • Children (or a couple) who cannot share because of a disability or a medical condition.
  • A non-resident overnight carer for you, your partner, a child, or another adult (if they need to stay overnight).

One spare bedroom is usually allowed for foster carers, such as:

  • An approved foster carer who is between placements but only for up to 52 weeks from the end of the last placement.
  • A ‘newly’ approved foster carer for up to 52 weeks from the date of approval if no child gets placed with them during that time.

Rooms sometimes get used by students, members of the armed forces, or the reserve forces. In this case, the room would not get counted as ‘spare’ while they are away providing they intend to return home.

Housing Benefit Rates for Private Rent

If you rent ‘privately’, they use the Local Housing Allowance rates to work out Housing Benefit amounts. The rate that tenants get is usually based on:

  • Where you live and the size of the household (bedroom eligibility).
  • Your circumstances and income (including any benefits, pensions, and savings over £6,000).

Housing Benefit Amounts (weekly)

  • One (1) bedroom (or shared accommodation): Up to £268.46
  • Two (2) bedrooms: Up to £311.40
  • Three (3) bedrooms: Up to £365.09
  • Four (4) bedrooms: Up to £429.53
  • A houseboat, a mooring, or a caravan site.
  • A room that includes meals with the rent (often called a boarding home).
  • A hostel.
  • A Rent Act protected property.

Note: You should contact your local council if you are living in:

Housing Benefit Exception

An exception applies if you have been receiving Housing Benefit since before the 7th of April 2008. In this case, the limits only apply if:

  • You change your address.
  • You take a break in your claim for Housing Benefit.

Increased Housing Benefit from April 2020

The lifting of the freeze on Local Housing Allowance rates means something like 900,000 people may see an increase in their Housing Benefit payments.

As a result, the change in Housing Benefit rules could provide around £10 extra a month to the affected households in the private rented sector.

Note: The extra housing payments increase by automatic process from the 1st of April 2020. Thus, you will not need to apply to get the extra cash.

How Housing Benefit Payments get Paid

The local council pay Housing Benefit payments to:

  • Council tenants: Into the rent account (you will not receive the money).
  • Private tenants: Into a bank or building society account (rarely paid by a cheque).

The Benefit Cap

The government benefit cap limits the amount of benefit that most people can get between the ages of 16 and 64. Housing Benefit can go down if you get affected by the cap. Thus, make sure the total amount of benefit you get is below the benefit cap level.

Appealing a Housing Benefit Decision

Local councils handle Housing Benefit appeals. You should contact your local council to appeal a housing benefit decision. You must contact them to question a decision made by them and follow their appeals procedure.

Housing Benefit Rates in the United Kingdom