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Can I Claim Benefit?

You can make a claim for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction if: 

  • you pay rent to a private landlord, housing association, or a council property. But you cannot claim Housing Benefit if you rent from close relatives or the landlord also lives in the same property. A close relative is a parent/step parent or sibling/step sibling. However, if the relative has a commercial tenancy agreement (ie they are a landlord who has let properties previously) then you may be able to claim. Please note if you are a mixed aged couple (meaning that one of you is under pension age) then you will need to claim your Housing Costs through Universal Credit unless you fall under any of the Universal Credit ruling exemptions. Please see our Universal Credit information page  
  • you have to pay Council Tax on your home. But if you live in a property that is band E or higher you will only be paid up to the amount for a band D property 
  • your savings are less than £16,000 for Housing Benefit and £6000 for Council Tax Reduction applications 
  • you work full time or part time (employed or self-employed) and get a low wage 
  • you get Benefit or Tax Credit managed by the Department for Work and Pensions, the Inland Revenue or any other low income

The rules on claiming Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction for self-employed people, students, people from abroad and people who have savings are different to those who get Benefit or Pensions. 

There are also different rules for people who have adult children or adults who are not boarders/lodgers or joint tenants. You can find more information on all of the above situations in our related downloads. 

 How Much Benefit Could I Get? 

This is based on the amount of income and savings you have. The more you have the less you get. When we work out your Benefit we take into account how much money you have coming in each week

Working age - there will be a cap on the amount of benefits that you can get. The Benefit Cap forms part of the Welfare Reform Changes that came into force from April 2013. There are a number of benefits that are included in the Benefit Cap as well as a number of benefits and circumstances that will exclude you from having the cap applied. The Benefit Cap factsheet in Related downloads can explain this further. 

If you are not excluded from the benefit amount cap, it will be set at:

  • £500 per week for couples and lone parents; or
  • £350 per week for single adults.
  • how much you have in savings and investments
  • who lives in your household and their circumstances
  • how much rent and Council Tax you have to pay
  • whether you are of pension age or working age 
  • how many rooms you need for your household (Housing Benefit only)

Renting from South Essex Homes or Housing Associations

Working age - the amount that you are awarded for Housing Benefit depends on the number of rooms you are allowed for your family circumstances, this is known as Size Criteria . Size Criteria forms part of the Welfare Reform Changes that came into force from April 2013. If you are considered to have:

  • 1 extra bedroom you will have a 14% reduction on your Housing Benefit
  • 2 or more extra bedrooms you will have a 25% reduction to your Housing Benefit

You will have to make up the difference yourself. There are some groups of people that are excluded from having the size criteria applied to their claim. For further information about these groups of people please see the Size Criteria Factsheet 2014 in Related Downloads.

Renting from a Private Landlord

If you are working age or pension age the amount you get depends on the Local Housing Allowance rate for the size property you are claiming for. The rates and are updated yearly and can be found on the LHA Rates 2019/2020 poster.

Payment on Two Homes

Housing Benefit is normally only paid for one home at a time. However, there are some exceptions where the council may consider paying benefit on two homes. These exceptions are:

  • you have moved into rented accommodation due to fear of violence
  • you are a student/trainee, one of a couple and have to live in separate rented accommodation
  • you have a large family and the council has housed you in two properties
  • you have moved to a new home which you have to pay rent for, but still have to pay rent for a period of time on the old property. This is known as unavoidable overlapping liability

For further information on payment on two homes please read the Payment on Two Homes leaflet in Related Downloads.

Calculating your Entitlement 

To find out an accurate assessment of what you could be entitled to please use the Entitled To Benefit Calculator. Not only will it calculate what you are currently entitled to based on your circumstances but it will also calculate whether you will be better off in work and how Universal Credit will affect you once active in the area.

Page last updated: 29/05/2019