Benefits

9. Help with housing costs

If you receive Income support, income-related Employment and support allowance, income-related Jobseeker's allowance or Guarantee credit, you may qualify for help with your rent, Council tax and NHS costs. You may also be eligible to apply for help with your rent and Council tax if you are on a low income, such as low wages or Savings credit.

Support for mortgage interest

You may get help paying some of your mortgage interest, if you are entitled to Income support, income-related ESA, income-based Jobseeker's allowance, or Pension guarantee credit (and Universal credit when eventually introduced).

Housing benefit

Housing benefit is a benefit to help 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. 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, 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 currently apply to Housing benefit but will also apply to Universal credit as it is implemented around the country. Existing claimants may therefore find their Housing benefit reduced if their income is more than a certain amount. People getting DLA or PIP should not be capped.

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.

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 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.

Help with Council tax

The Council tax is set by local authorities to pay for the services they provide. The amount of Council tax support that a person or couple is eligible for depends on income and savings, and the amount of Council tax due. People under pension age may be asked to pay a contribution to the tax even if on a low income.