Housing benefit and council tax support
Benefit and support can be claimed if you or other people in your home are on low incomes, even if you are employed or self-employed. The amount of benefit you will get will depend on your income, savings, and your personal circumstances. You can claim housing benefit if you pay rent to a housing association, private landlord or your local council. You can claim council tax support if you are liable to pay the council tax bill for the property where you live. You can claim second adult rebate if you are the only person in your home who is liable to pay council tax, but there is at least one other person aged 18 or over, who is not your partner, and is not a joint tenant. The second adult rebate calculation is based on their income, not yours.
What is a local housing allowance?
Local Housing Allowance is the way we work out housing benefit for most tenants who rent their homes from a private landlord. Any claims made from 7 April 2008 onwards will have their housing benefit calculated using the local housing allowance. If you are an existing customer and have a change of address, or have a break in your claim, your new entitlement will be based on local housing allowance.
There are a number of key aims for the local housing allowance such as:
- Fairness, tenants with similar circumstances living in the same area will get the same amount of housing benefit.
- Choice, tenants being able to choose the quality and price of their accommodation.
- Transparency, making it easy to find out how much rent could be covered by housing benefit.
- Personal responsibility, by paying the allowance to the tenant we encourage them to take responsibility for budgeting and paying their rent themselves.
- Increased work incentives, greater certainty about what in-work benefit they could receive is expected to help tenants to bridge the gap between being out of work and taking a job.
- Simplicity, by removing complex rent restrictions, we speed up the decision making process.
Only a few tenancies will be exempt from the local housing allowance, such as:
- Registered Social Landlord tenancies
- Local Authority tenancies
- Exceptional cases such as caravans, mobile homes and hostels
How much will I receive?
You will receive local housing allowance based on the number of occupiers in your property, and the area in which you live. If you are not sure which LHA area you live in you can check the maps below:
OR you can match your postcode to your LHA. Go to the LHA webpage and follow the link to 'Find your LHA'
Entitlement to the Local housing allowance [288kb] will be means-tested and needs proof of a valid tenancy. The local housing allowance rate used in the assessment remains in effect until the following April.
Calculating your category
There are different categories of Local housing allowance [288kb], which relate to property size. We will decide how many rooms, according to the Housing Benefit rules, you need. Tenants with similar circumstances are entitled to the same category of Local Housing Allowance.
Your category depends on the number of people in your household. One bedroom will be allowed for each of the following categories of people:
1. A couple
2. A person aged 16 or over
3. Two children of the same sex until they are 16
4. Two children who are younger than 10 years old
5. A child (under 16)
Allowances are set by The Rent Service each April and can be found on their website.These allowances are the maximum amount that can be claimed. The actual amount you will be entitled to will depend on income, savings and circumstance. Claims are based on the rate set in April, and will be reviewed in April, unless there's a change in circumstances.
What is council tax support?
Council tax support is a means tested benefit that helps people on low incomes pay their council tax. It is administered by your local council using rules that have been set locally and it is not fully funded by central government. The local council tax support scheme replaced the council tax benefit scheme from 1st April 2013.
How much could I receive?
If you claim council tax support (unless you are protected) you will only be eligible for help with paying up to a maximum of 80% of your weekly council tax charge. This means you will be required to pay a contribution towards your weekly council tax of at least 20% and are likely to see the amount of council tax support you get go down.
- Those with disabilities are protected from any reduction in support.
If you claim council tax support and we consider you to be disabled you will be eligible for help with paying up to 100% of your weekly council tax charge.
- Those with caring responsibilities should be protected from any reduction in support.
If you claim council tax support and are in receipt of a carer's allowance you will be eligible for help with paying up to 100% of your weekly council tax charge.
- War pensioners should be protected from any reduction in support.
If you claim council tax support and are in receipt of a war disability or a war widow's pension, you will be eligible for help with paying up to 100% of your weekly council tax charge.
The council tax support scheme will be based on rules set locally. You can view our Council Tax Support Rules [1Mb] here.
Other ways to reduce your council tax bill
Can I get help?
You can estimate your entitlement to housing benefit, council tax support or second adult rebate by using an online calculator. Use this to find out more information on what you are entitled to and how to claim.
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