Calculation of housing benefit and council tax support

People of working age

For housing benefit and council tax support purposes a person of working age is anyone aged under state pension credit age.

Find out your state pension credit age by using the GOV.UK state pension age calculator

You cannot claim council tax support if you/your partner have combined savings of £6,000 or more.

How to claim 

  • If you claim income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income based employment support allowance or income support from the Department of Works and Pension you can claim housing benefit at the same time.   
  • If you claim income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income based employment support allowance or income support and you wish to claim council tax support you should complete an online claim form.
  • If you already get income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income based employment support allowance or income support and you now have to pay rent or if you are not claiming income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income based employment support allowance or income support you should complete an online claim form for housing benefit and council tax support.

When to claim 

If you are not able to complete an online claim straight away, you can register your intention to claim by starting the online claim and selecting the 'save for later' option.  Once you have registered your intention to claim you must complete the online claim form and provide all the evidence required within one month of the date of your claim. You can also register your intention to claim by telephoning the benefits service on 020 8825 7000.   

We recommend that you send all the evidence within one month otherwise you may lose benefit.

The date of your claim will be the date that you complete your online claim form or the date of your intention to claim, providing that you complete an online application form within one month of registration.

You may claim up to 13 weeks beforehand if you know that your circumstances are about to change, for example if you are moving house.

If you claim in the same week (Monday to Sunday) in which you first become responsible for paying the rent, your housing benefit will start on the same day as the rent.

You can ask for your benefit to start earlier but we can only backdate claims for housing benefit where there was continuous good reason for not claiming sooner. We can only backdate your claim up to six months from the date of receiving your written request. From 1 April 2016 the maximum backdating period is one month. 

Claims for council tax support cannot be backdated.

Special rules for single people under 35

If you are a single person aged less than 35 and exempt from Local Housing Allowance, we normally work out your benefit using a figure called the 'single-room rent'’. This is the average cost of renting a room or a bedsit. Please contact us if you are already renting more than one room or you would like more details.

The rules are different if you are covered by Local Housing Allowance scheme.

Your income

To work out how much money you have coming in, we add together your earnings and those of your partner (if you have one) together with any other income and state benefits that you have. We must also take into account any savings and investments you or your partner have. This includes shares, National Savings certificates and certain property which you or your partner own other than your home.

The DWP share HMRC information about your earnings and private pensions with us. We will use this information to make sure that you get the correct amount of benefit that you are entitled to, but it is still your responsibility to tell us about any changes in your or your household's circumstances. It is important that you tell us about any changes to your household’s income straight away to prevent overpayments.

Types of income

We will need to see your and your partner’s last five weekly payslips or two monthly payslips. If you or your partner are self-employed we will need evidence of your income such as certified accounts or a record of income and outgoings. 

Types of income are:

  • Any pension from your or your partner’s previous employer
  • Annuities (income that you receive from a lump sum invested with an insurance company)
  • Rent paid to you by lodgers or subtenants
  • Maintenance received from a former partner
  • Any DWP benefits.

The claim form asks you about all the income you get. When we work out your benefit we use the gross earnings less tax, national insurance and half of any pension contributions that you and your partner make.  In all cases we ignore at least the first £5 every week of your earned income.

Savings

If you do not get income support, income based employment support allowance or JSA (IB) we need to know about any savings you or your partner have. When you claim you will need to provide proof of all your savings.

This includes:

  • Bank accounts (all types), building society accounts and post office savings 
  • PEPs,TESSAs and ISAs 
  • Stocks, shares, and unit trusts 
  • National Savings certificates
  • Cash
  • Property or land you own (but not the home you live in).

Normally, if you have savings of more than £16,000 you are not eligible to claim housing benefit and if you have savings of more than £6,000 you are not eligible to claim council tax support.

When we calculate your housing benefit, we will ignore any of your and your partner’s savings or investments (or both) up to £6,000.  If you have over £6,000 we will add £1 a week to your income for every £250 or part of £250 you have over £6,000. For example, if you have £6,600, we will count that as an extra income of £3 a week.

Savings or investments below £6,000 are not taken into account when calculating council tax support.

How we work out housing benefit and council tax support

We will assess your housing benefit according to the rules set by the government and your council tax support according to rules set by the council. We can pay extra benefit to war pensioners that qualify.

Each year the government sets figures called allowances and premiums that we use to work out how much money you need to live on each week. The council will set its own figures for calculating council tax support.

The total of these allowances and premiums is called your ‘applicable amount’. Allowances are for basic needs.  There are different rates for single people, couples and children. Premiums are for special needs. There are amounts for families, elderly people, disabled people, single-parent families and carers.

Maximum housing benefit is 100% of the rent that you pay after services such as heating, lighting, water rates are taken out.  If you pay rent to a private landlord, we may not be able to pay benefit on the full rent if it is too expensive or the accommodation is too large.  Maximum council tax support for single parents with children under five and people who are entitled to a disability premium is 100% of your council tax bill.

If you get income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income based employment allowance or income support or your total income is less than or the same as your applicable amount, you will get maximum housing benefit and council tax support of up to 75% of your council tax bill. 

If you do not get income based jobseeker’s allowance, income based employment allowance or income support including single parents with children under five and those entitled to a disability premium and your income is higher than your applicable amount, you will not get maximum housing benefit and/or council tax support. The more money you have coming in the less benefit you will get. 

Going into residential care accommodation

If you move into residential care accommodation but intend to return home you may be entitled to benefit for up to 52 weeks. If you go into residential care on a trial basis you may be entitled to benefit for up to 13 weeks. You must tell us as soon as possible if you are going away from home and wish to continue claiming housing or council tax support.