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What is housing benefit, how to claim it and reductions that apply

Changes to benefits and tax credits from April 2016

In July 2015, the government delivered an emergency budget. The budget aimed to cut £12 billion from benefits paid to working age people.

This means big changes that might affect you if are of working age and claiming housing benefit, tax credits or other benefits.

The main changes are:                                                                      


  • From April 2016, most benefits, including tax credits and Local Housing Allowance, have been frozen for four years
  • Disability benefits have not been frozen
  • If you are a council or housing association tenant, your rent will be cut by 1% a year for four years from April 2016
  • If you are working and getting Universal Credit, from April 2016 you lose Universal Credit more quickly because of changes to your work allowance (the amount of money you can earn before your Universal Credit is affected). You only now get a work allowance if you are responsible for children or have a limited capability for work, and the amount of the work allowance has been cut. If you do not qualify for a work allowance, you now lose Universal Credit whatever your earnings from work
  • If you have children and claim housing benefit from April 2016, you cannot get the family premium, which means you could lose more than £11 per week in housing benefit


  • If you have children after April 2017, you will not be able to get child tax credit, housing benefit or Universal Credit for more than two children
  • If you start a family after April 2017, you will not be able to get the family element of child tax credit or the first child premium of Universal Credit
  • If you rent from the council or a housing association, your rent will increase if your household income is more than £30,000 a year.
  • If you are aged between 18 and 21, from April 2017 you may not be able to get help with your housing costs if you are claiming Universal Credit. There will be some exceptions to this rule
  • If you make a new claim for claim Employment & Support Allowance from April 2017 and are placed in the Work-Related Activity Group, you will be paid the same amount of benefit as someone on Jobseekers Allowance
  • If your youngest child is aged three or older, from 2017 you will be expected to look for work if you are claiming Universal Credit
  • If you have children, from September 2017 you will be able to get 30 hours a week free childcare, compared to 15 hours a week now

You may be able to get housing benefit to help pay part or all of your rent if you or your partner are on a low income. The amount will depend on your income and circumstances. You can apply whether you are working or unemployed. If your savings or assets are more than £16,000 you cannot get housing benefit.

How to apply

To apply please fill in and return the Benefit Application Form

How much will you get?

The amount you get depends on:

  • If you rent privately or from a council.
  • Your household income and circumstances including money from savings over £6,000, benefits and pensions and circumstances (and your partner’s). 

There is no set amount of housing benefit. You should remember that housing benefit might not cover all your rent, in which case you must pay the difference or negotiate a cheaper rent with your landlord.

Private rent

If you are renting privately the amount you receive is usually based on the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) Limit unless your claim has been continuous before April 2008. If you have been receiving housing benefit since before 7 April 2008 the LHA limit will only apply if you change address or have a break in your housing benefit claim. 

If you are under 35 and single your benefit will be restricted to a Shared Accommodation Rate of the Local Housing Allowance. 

Family with baby having quarrel over money

Council and social housing rent

How much you get depends on:

  • Your ‘eligible’ rent – for example, what a reasonable rent is for a suitable property where you live.
  • Your household income.
  • Your circumstances – including your age, your family and their ages, if anyone in your family is disabled.
  • If you have to pay service charges – for example, lift maintenance, communal laundry facility etc.    

Factors affecting how much housing benefit you receive

If you are entitled to housing benefit, there are reductions, which may apply.  

Extra bedrooms

If you live in council accommodation or other social housing and are assessed as having at least one extra bedroom in your house, your housing benefit could be reduced by:

  • 14% if you have one extra bedroom
  • 25% if you have two or more extra bedrooms.

Other reductions

We may reduce your housing benefit based on the circumstances of those living with you but not dependent on you. These people are referred to as non dependants.

From April 2016, these reductions apply: 

Who qualifies?

HB/LHA 2016

HB/LHA 2016
48 weeks*

Aged 25 or over and on Income Support/Income Based Job Seekers Allowance, or aged 18 or over and not in remunerative work



In receipt of main phase ESA(IR)



In receipt of Pension Credit



Not in receipt of main phase Income related Employment Support Allowance rate



Aged 18 or over and in remunerative work



Gross income less than £133.00



Gross income not less than £133.00 but less than £195.00



Gross income not less than £195.00 but less than £253.00



Gross income not less than £253.00 but less than £338.00



Gross income not less than £338.00 but less than £420.00



Gross income not less than £420.00



* These amounts apply if you are a tenant of Tandridge District Council and pay your year's rent over 48 weeks.

Meal reductions

These government set reductions are made to your housing benefit if your rent includes meals. The amounts are reviewed each year and we will let you know if they change. Your landlord may charge more or less than these amounts.

Full board
(3 meals or more per day)
Part board
(any other arrangement)
Aged 16 or over £3.30 £26.85 £17.85
Aged under 16 £3.30 £13.60 £9.00

How you are paid

We pay housing benefit, on behalf of the government:

  • Direct into rent accounts of council tenants
  • Into bank or building society accounts of those renting privately.

The introduction of Universal Credit in Tandridge in 2016 will change this. 

Universal Credit

Please visit our Universal Credit page for more information.

Additional support

For information on other support available visit GOV.UK.