Housing Benefit helps people on low incomes with the cost of their rent and is paid by the local council.

Council Tax Reduction helps people on low incomes with the cost of their council tax and is paid by the local council. It is a means tested discount that reduces your council tax bill. It is not a benefit.

It has replaced the national council tax benefit scheme with a local scheme devised and administered by the council. If you are of pensionable age, the government still sets the rules we use, but for working age claimants each council can now set its own rules. 

Each year the council has to decide how much money it is going to make available for its scheme, so there is no guarantee that what you get this year will be the same in the future.

Claim housing benefit and/or council tax reduction

How much can I claim?

Housing benefit

If your Housing Benefit is worked out using Local Housing Allowance, you can get the Local Housing Allowance rate for your needs or your actual rent (whichever is lower) less any deductions we make for other adults living with you.

Housing Benefit for tenants in exempt accommodation is based on the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) valuation of a reasonable rent. Further deductions are made for any other adults living with you and for any charges included in your rent which are not eligible for Housing Benefit, like heating and hot water.

Housing Benefit in the social sector is based on 100% of your rent, less (if you are not a pensioner) a deduction of:

  • 14% if you have one more bedroom than you need
  • 25% if you have more than one extra bedroom

Further deductions are made for any other adults living with you and for any charges included in your rent which are not eligible for housing benefit, like heating and hot water.

The minimum amount of benefit paid is 50 pence per week.

Please use the benefit calculator to work out whether you may be entitled. 

You may be able to get help with the shortfall in your rent in certain circumstances; this is known as a Discretionary Housing Payment.

Discretionary Housing Payment form

    Council Tax Reduction

    Council Tax Reduction is based on 100% of your council tax liability; minus any discounts you have been awarded. You can only claim help for a property where you live, named as your main home.

    How are housing benefit and council tax reduction paid?

    Housing benefit:

    If you rent from a private landlord we usually pay housing benefit directly into your bank or building society account every four weeks.

    You can only have it paid to your landlord in certain circumstances, if:

    • You are having difficulty managing your financial affairs
    • You are 8 weeks or more behind with your rent
    •  You are having arrears of rent paid back to your landlord from certain social security benefits
    • You are unlikely to pay your rent.
    • Direct payments to your landlord will help you secure or renew a tenancy.
    • We may ask you to provide us with reasons and evidence as to why we should pay your landlord.

    If you are renting from a Housing Association or Registered Social Landlord, or live in exempt accommodation, you have a choice of two ways:

    • Directly to you every four weeks
    • Directly to your landlord every four weeks

    How soon will I be paid?

    Payment should be made in 14 days if we have all the relevant information. If we do not have enough information to make a final decision then a payment on account may be made.

    How often will I be paid?

    Housing benefit is usually paid in arrears every 4 weeks. In certain circumstances it can be paid fortnightly in arrears.

    Council tax reduction:

    How is it paid?

    Council tax reduction is always paid by crediting your council tax bill with the amount you will get for the rest of the year. If there are changes to this figure in the future, you will get a new bill with revised instalments.

    How soon will I be paid?

    Your account should be credited in 14 days if we have all the relevant information.

    How is my entitlement worked out?

    Housing benefit

    The amount of housing benefit you can get depends on:

    • the amount of rent you are liable for;
    • the size of accommodation you need;
    • your income;
    • your savings or capital
    • other people who live with you
       

    Council tax reduction

    The amount of council tax reduction you can get depends on:

    • the amount of council tax you are liable for
    • your income;
    • your savings or capital
    • other people who live with you
       

    Rent liability

    The amount of rent used in the Housing Benefit calculation depends on the amount of rent you are liable for and the number of bedrooms your household needs.

    These rules apply to all private sector tenants coming under Local Housing Allowance rules and social sector tenants who are under pension age.
     

    Size of accommodation

    The general rule is one bedroom for each of the following:

    • A single claimant or every adult couple
    • Any other single adult aged 16 or over
    • Any two children under age 10
    • Any two children of the same sex aged up to 15
    • Any other child
    • A non-resident carer who uses a spare bedroom
    • A foster carer who uses a spare bedroom for the foster child

    The maximum bedroom allowance for Local Housing Allowance is 4 Bedrooms.

    There is no maximum for social sector tenants.

    Housing benefit in the social sector is based on 100% of your rent, less (if you are not a pensioner) a deduction of:

    • 14% if you have one more bedroom than you need
    • 25% if you have more than one extra bedroom

    Further deductions are made for any other adults living with you and for any charges included in your rent which are not eligible for Housing Benefit, like heating and hot water.

    The number of living rooms, kitchens and bathrooms is ignored.

    If you live in one room and share some facilities with other people, for example a kitchen or bathroom, or are under 35 and live on your own, there is a shared accommodation rate. The shared accommodation rate does not apply to social sector tenants

    There rules do not apply to residents of exempt accommodation. In these cases the VOA decides how many rooms you need. This is also the case for private accommodation which is not covered by Local Housing Allowance.

    1 April 2017 changes to the rules

    These changes will affect cases where one or more members of the household have a disability and may require an additional room.

    Council tax liability

    Council Tax Reduction is based on 100% of your council tax liability; minus any discounts you have been awarded. If you are not the sole Council Tax payer, this may be apportioned between you and any joint tenants who are not part of your household. You can only claim help for a property where you live, named as your main home.

    Further deductions are made for any other adults living with you and for any extra amounts you might have to pay like fines and penalties. No help can be given for payments of arrears. The minimum amount of reduction paid is £1.00 per week. This means that if your entitlement to a reduction is calculated at less than £1.00 per week your award will be nil.

     

    What income is used?

    If you are in receipt of Income Support, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance or Pension Credit you will normally get maximum housing benefit and council tax reduction less any deductions for non-dependants.

    If you are working or receive any other type of benefit, including tax credits, the amount of housing benefit you get will be based on your income and capital, and if you have a partner, their income and capital will also be taken into account.

    Your benefit is worked out by comparing your total net weekly income with your applicable amount. This is the allowance set by the government to take account of your individual or family's needs. If your income is less than or the same as your applicable amount, you will get the full amount of eligible Housing Benefit and council tax reduction less any non-dependant deductions. If your income is more than your applicable amount then your housing benefit will be reduced by 65p for each £1 that your income is over your applicable amount. Council tax reduction reduces by 20p in each £1. If you have non dependants in the household a further deduction will be made from your entitlement.

    We use net income; this is what is left after tax, National Insurance and half your pension contribution is taken out. Before your benefit is worked out we allow you certain disregards from your wages.

    • Single Claimants £5.00
    • Couples £10.00
    • Disabled Claimants and Carers £20.00
    • Lone Parents £25.00

    In addition there is an earnings disregard of £17.10 if you or your partner is working over 30 hours each week, or over 16 hours for certain people.

    We also look at other types of income including most state benefits, tax credits, and occupational or private pensions. Certain types of income, although they need to be declared, are not taken into account in the calculation of your Housing Benefit. These include:

    • Child Benefit
    • Disability Living Allowance (care and mobility components)
    • Attendance Allowance
    • War Widows Pension
    • War Disablement Pension
    • Voluntary Payments
    • Child maintenance you receive
    • Permitted Work (i.e. earnings allowed by the Jobcentre Plus for people receiving certain sickness benefits.)

    If you pay for childcare to a registered child-minder, an approved provider such as a local authority holiday scheme, or nursery, we may allow you up to £175 per week for one child or £300 per week for two or more children in approved childcare.
     

    Savings and capital

    We also take an income from any savings, investments or capital you or your partner may have.

    • If you are of working age £1 of tariff income will be taken for every, or part of, £250 of savings you have over £6,000.
    • If you have over £16,000 you cannot get Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction
    • For people of pensionable age £1 tariff income will be taken for every, or part of, £500 you have over £10,000.
    • If you have over £16,000 you cannot get Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction unless you or your partner is receiving the guaranteed part of Pension Credit.
       

    Other people who live with you (Non Dependants)

    A non-dependant is someone aged over 18 living in your property who is not your partner, spouse or living with you on a commercial basis, such as a lodger.

    If you have one or more non dependants living in your property, depending on their financial circumstances a deduction will be made from any entitlement you have. (Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction Non Dependant Deductions)

     

    What if I disagree with a decision about my entitlement?

    Reconsiderations and appeals

    If you disagree with a decision that we have made regarding your Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction you can ask us to look at the decision again. This is sometimes called a reconsideration. If you do not understand a decision that has been made with regard to your claim you can ask for a statement of reasons.

    • Please write to us within one month of the date of your notification letter, telling us the reason for your request. If you make a request outside of this time limit you will need to explain your reasons for being late.
    • A different officer will reconsider the decision.
    • For Housing Benefit decisions an independent tribunal administered by Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service is the second stage of the appeal process. It is usually arranged if you still do not agree with the assessment after the reconsideration has been carried out

     

    What if there is a change in my circumstances?

    If there is a change in your income or household circumstances you must notify us in writing immediately, or you may lose benefit .You can do this by letter, or you can visit our offices. You can also download a change in circumstances form from our website. If the change gives you more benefit, but you did not tell us within a month of it happening, your benefit will increase from the Monday following the date you told us.

    You must report any changes that may affect your claim. This includes the following;

    • Changes in your household such as people moving in and out, a new baby, children leaving school etc.
    • A change in the income of a member of your household
    • A change of address or rent liability
    • Temporary absence. The Housing Benefit regulations have changed. If you are going to absent from your property for 4 weeks or more, please tell us as this may affect your entitlement.

    This list is only an example of the changes that may happen. If in doubt, please tell us.

    To tell us about a change in your circumstances, please visit My benefits .

    The benefit cap (housing benefit only)

    If you are receiving the main out of work benefits and are under pension age a cap will be applied to the total amount of benefit you can get. The cap is £384.62 per week for a family and £257.69 per week for a single person

    Benefits included in the cap:

    • Jobseekers Allowance;
    • Income Support;
    • Universal Credit;
    • Employment and Support Allowance (work related rate);
    • Severe Disablement Allowance;
    • Child Benefit;
    • Child Tax Credit;
    • Maternity Allowance;
    • Housing Benefit;
    • Bereavement Allowance;
    • Widows Benefits

    The cap won't apply where a member of the household qualifies for:

    • Working Tax Credit;
    • Attendance Allowance;
    • Carer's Allowance (From November 2016);
    • Disability Living Allowance;
    • Personal Independence Payment;
    • Guardian's Allowance (From November 2016);
    • Employment and Support Allowance (support rate);
    • War Widow's or War Widower's Pensions
    • War Pensions
    • Armed Forces Compensation Scheme and Independent Payment;
    • Industrial Injuries Benefits

    At the moment the cap will only be applied to Housing Benefit payments and they will be reduced to bring your total benefit income down to the permitted levels. You will always be left with at least £0.50 per week Housing Benefit so you can claim a Discretionary Housing Payment.

    Extended payment periods

    An extended payment can be awarded if you have recently come off Department for Work and Pension (DWP) benefits to start work and you expect the work to last at least 5 weeks.

    The extended payment period will be for four weeks from the day after your Income Support, income-based Jobseekers Allowance, Severe Disablement Allowance, Incapacity Benefit or Employment and Support Allowance has stopped as long as you continue to have a liability to pay rent and/or Council Tax

    You will get the same amount of housing benefit and/or council tax reduction as you did before you started work.

    Changes since April 2017

    Local Housing Allowances from April 2018

    The following rates are from 1 April 2017. These rates are weekly and will remain effective until 31 March 2018. For details of which areas are covered by each Broad Rental Market Area, please see the maps in the related documents. For details of the rates applicable to other Broad Rental Market Areas, please refer to the valuation  website.

    Broad Rental Market Area: Chichester

    Broad rental market area Broad rental market area

    Local housing allowance rates for Chichester

    Property

    Local Housing Allowance Rate

     1 Bed shared

     £73.58

     1 Bed self contained

     £134.02

     2 Bedrooms

     £168.00

     3 Bedrooms

     £198.11

     4 Bedrooms

     £268.03

    Broad Rental Market Area: Guildford

    Broad rental market area Guildford Broad rental market area Guildford

    Local housing allowance rates for Guildford

    Property

    Local Housing Allowance Rate

     1 Bed shared

     £86.56

     1 Bed self-contained

     £170.67

     2 Bedrooms

     £222.96

     3 Bedrooms

     £276.07

     4 Bedrooms

     £355.57

    Broad Rental Market Area: Portsmouth

    Broad rental market area Portsmouth Broad rental market area Portsmouth

    Local housing allowance rates for Portsmouth

    Property

    Local Housing Allowance Rate

     1 Bed shared

     £69.04

     1 Bed self contained

     £116.53

     2 Bedrooms

     £144.36

     3 Bedrooms

     £172.60

     4 Bedrooms

     £240.00

     

    Housing Benefit Non Dependant Deductions Table 2018/2019

    Deduction prices

    Deduction

    Amount

    Aged under 25 and on Income Support

    £0.00

    Aged under 25 and on Jobseekers Allowance

    £0.00

    Aged under 25 and on Employment and Support Allowance which does not include an amount for support component or work-related activity component

    £0.00

    Aged 25 or over and on Income Support or Jobseekers Allowance

    £15.25

    Aged over 18 and not in remunerative work

    £15.25

    In receipt of main phase Employment and Support Allowance (Income Related)

    £15.25

    In receipt of State Pension Credit

    £0.00

    Aged 18 or over and in remunerative work

     

    Gross income less than £139.00

    £15.25

    Gross income £139.00 to £203.99

    £35.00

    Gross income £204.00 to £264.99

    £48.05

    Gross income £265.00 to £353.99

    £78.65

    Gross income £354.00 to £438.99

    £89.55

    Gross income £439.00 and above

    £98.30

     

    Council Tax Reduction: Non Dependant Deductions Table 2018/2019

    Non dependent deduction table in work Non dependent deduction table in work

    Non Dependants aged 18+ and in work (This includes those who are also in  receipt of Universal Credit)

    Gross Income Nil to £202.85

    £3.90

    Gross Income £202.86 to £351.65

    £7.90

    Gross Income £351.66 to £436.90

    £9.95

    Gross Income £436.91 +

    £11.90

     

    non dependants aged 18 and not in work deduction table non dependents aged 18 and not in work deduction table

    Non Dependants aged 18+ not in work

    Not working and not in receipt of out of work benefits

    £3.90

    In receipt of Employment and Support Allowance (Income Related)

    £0.00

    In receipt of Income Support

    £0.00

    In receipt of Jobseekers Allowance (Income Based)

    £0.00

    In receipt of Universal Credit

    £0.00

    Pensioner

    £0.00

    Student

    £0.00

    Member of Armed Forces on manoeuvers

    £0.00

     

    Changes To Size Criteria since April 2018 (Private Sector and Social Sector) - Extra Bedrooms

    From 1 April 2017 the rules regarding the number of bedrooms allowed for Housing Benefit and Universal Credit have changed. The new rules affect households where:

    • An additional room is required for an overnight carer
    • A couple are unable to share a bedroom due to a disability

    Additional Room Required For An Overnight Carer:

    Prior to 1 April 2017 an additional room was only allowed in cases where a claimant or partner required and had an overnight carer. From 1 April 2017 the rules have been changed to include cases where;

    • a disabled child or non-dependant adult reasonably requires and has overnight care and:
    • the disabled child or non-dependant adult is in receipt of a specified benefit. If this is not in payment it is down to the Local Authorities discretion to decide whether an additional room is allowed.

    Couples Unable To Share A Room Due To A Disability

    Prior to 1 April 2017 couples were only allocated 1 bedroom regardless of their circumstances. From 1 April 2017 couples may be entitled to an additional room where:

    • the Local Authority is satisfied that a couple cannot reasonably share a bedroom as a result of a member of the couple's disability and :
    • that member of the couple is in receipt of a specified disability benefit
    • there is an additional room available in the home

    Changes In Allowances: Households with more than 2 children

    The rules regarding the number of children that are taken into account in the assessment of Housing Benefit claims is changing.

    From 1 April 2017 a maximum of 2 dependant children will be taken into account when calculating your applicable amount.

    • This only affects the allowances used in the Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction calculation. This does not affect the award of premiums within the applicable amount.
    • This will not affect how eligible rent is calculated. For example a couple with 3 children will still require at least 3 bedrooms for Housing Benefit purposes.
    • Existing claimant's will not be affected by this change until:
      • there is a break in their claim or;
      • they become responsible for another dependant child. If there are already 2 children being taken into account, no additional dependant allowances will awarded within the applicable amount for children entering the household after 1 April 2017.