Help with housing costs

People affected by dementia who receive benefits may also be eligible for help with their housing costs. Find out what you could be entitled to.

Am I eligible for help with my housing costs?

If you receive Income support, income-related Employment and support allowance, income-related Jobseeker’s allowance, Universal credit or Pension credit guarantee, you may qualify for help with your housing costs including Council tax.

You may also be eligible to apply for help if you are on a low income, such as a retirement pension and other pensions, low wages or pension credit.

Support for mortgage interest

If you are a homeowner you may get help paying some of your mortgage interest, if you are entitled to any of these benefits:

  • Income support
  • income-related ESA
  • income-based Jobseeker’s allowance
  • Pension credit
  • Universal credit.

This will depend on the circumstances of those living in your home and will now only be given as a loan which must be repaid. There is a 39 week wait for payment from the time you claim (unless you are over pension age, in which case you can receive help immediately).

Housing benefit, housing cost element and Local housing allowance

Housing benefit helps people to pay for rent. It is assessed and paid for by local councils. The amount of benefit paid will normally depend on the person’s income and savings, and the rent being charged. You may not be eligible for Housing benefit if you have savings over a set amount.

People renting from a private landlord usually have their Housing benefit limited to what is known as the local housing allowance rate. Local housing allowance rates can be found on local authority websites. In some instances, a room for a carer can be included in the amounts.

Similar provisions now also apply to people of working age only, living in social sector housing. The under-occupancy size criteria (often referred to as the bedroom tax) means that, if it is considered that you have too many bedrooms (based on the number of people living there), the amount of your rent eligible for housing benefit will be cut by 14% (for one bedroom too many) or 25% (for two or more bedrooms too many).

Housing benefit is also being ‘capped’ for working-age tenants under the Benefit cap provisions, which apply to Housing benefit and also to Universal credit as it is implemented around the country. If you are already claiming Housing benefit you may find that this is reduced if your income is more than a certain amount.

Benefits should not be capped for people receiving DLA or PIP or Carer’s allowance, or who are in the ESA support group.

If you live with a partner, only one of you should apply for Housing benefit. However, your income and savings will be considered jointly and other adults living with you will affect the amount of Housing benefit you can receive. If you or your partner get AA or PIP (daily living) or DLA (care component), any non-dependents who live with you are not required to make a contribution to your housing costs.

Housing benefit does not depend on National insurance contributions and is tax free. It can be claimed at the same time as Income support, income-based Jobseeker’s allowance, income-related ESA or Pension credit. A claim form for Housing benefit is often included in the application packs for means-tested benefits. If you are not applying for another benefit you can ask the local authority for an application form.

The housing cost element is part of Universal credit to help with rent and is very similar to housing benefit. The housing cost element does not pay Council tax. Help with Council tax still has to be claimed separately from the council – see below for more information.

Housing benefit rates and thresholds 2022/23

You can no longer make a new claim for Housing benefit unless: 

  • you are over State pension age, or 
  • you are in temporary, sheltered or supported accommodation. 

If you don’t fall into these categories and need help with your housing costs, you should claim Universal credit instead.

Capital limits

You won’t be able to claim Housing benefit if you have capital (savings and other assets) over £16,000. The value of the home you live in isn’t counted as capital).

There is no upper capital limit if you are receiving Guarantee pension credit.

Benefit cap

You may find your Housing benefit reduced if your total benefits income is more than the maximum allowed under the benefit cap.

Whether the benefit cap applies to you will depend upon who lives in your household and which benefits are being paid. Some people will be exempt from the cap. This includes people over State pension age and people receiving Attendance allowance, Personal  independence payment or Disability Living living allowance.

The benefit cap amount depends on where you live in the country.

For couples with or without children and lone parents in Greater London: £23,000 a year (£442.31 per week)

For single people without children in Greater London: £15,410 a year (£296.35 per week)

For couples with or without children and lone parents elsewhere in Britain: £20,000 a year (£384.62 per week)

For single people without children elsewhere in Britain: £13,400 (£257.69 per week).

Help with Council tax

Council tax is set by local authorities to pay for the services they provide. The amount of Council tax support available depends on your income and savings, and the amount of Council tax due. If you are under pension age you may be asked to pay a contribution to the tax even if you are on a low income.

Some people with dementia may be eligible for help with their Council tax regardless of their income or age on the grounds of ‘severe mental impairment’. For information on Council tax support discounts, reductions, disregards and exemptions see Council tax and dementia.

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