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Date from which housing benefit is paid

This content applies to England

There are pending updates to this page following Brexit and the end of transition period on 31 December 2020

Rules on the start date of housing benefit award and the first payment with exceptions such as Week One Yes rule and daily rent liability.

General rule

As a general rule housing benefit is awarded from the Monday following the 'date of claim'.[1] For example, if the date of claim is a Tuesday, housing benefit is awarded from the following Monday. However, there are two important exceptions to this rule, the 'Week One Yes' rule and when tenant has a daily rental liability - both are explained below.

Date of claim: working age claimants

A claim for housing benefit is generally treated as being made on the:[2]

  • day that the local authority receives the form, or
  • day the claimant requested the form (by telephone, for example), so long as s/he then returns it within one month, or
  • date a partner died or left her/his home, so long as the claimant's form is received within one month of that event, or
  • first day of the claimant's entitlement to income-based jobseeker's allowance, income support, universal credit or pension credit.

Date of claim: pensionable age

The date of claim for housing benefit for a claimant of pensionable age is three months before the claim is made, although it can only go back to when the claimant (or partner) became of pensionable age, and to when the claimant became liable for rent.[3] Although, if the claimant is awarded state pension credit (guarantee credit) (SPC), and the housing benefit claim is made within one month of the claim for SPC, the date of claim is the date s/he was awarded guarantee credit (which is up to three months before the claimant contacts the Pension, Disability and Carers Service to make a SPC claim).[4]

The age at which a claimant, whether male or female, ceases to be a housing benefit claimant of working age increases in line with the state pension age for women,[5] and the state pension age for women increases from 60 to 65 in the period up to April 2018, thereafter both men and women's state pension age will increase from 65 to 66 by October 2020.[6] The state pension calculator on Gov.uk can be used to calculate a claimant's pension age.

'Week One Yes' rule

The first exception (also known as the 'Week One Yes' rule) works as follows.[7] If the date of claim falls in the same week (Monday to Sunday) that the claimant's liability for rent begins - and the claimant moves in during that week - then her/his benefit week begins on the Monday of the week in which the rent liability arises. However, housing benefit will be calculated on a daily basis within that week, starting from the first date of actual occupation of the property.[8] For example, if the claimant becomes liable for rent on a Monday and moves in and claims benefit on the Wednesday of the same week, then housing benefit is awarded from the Wednesday and calculated on a daily basis for the rest of that week.

Daily rent liability

The second exception applies to all tenancies with a daily rent liability, including hostels and certain other accommodation provided by a local authority under its statutory duties to the homeless.[9] Where a person is living in such accommodation, her/his housing benefit entitlement can begin from the day on which s/he moved in, even if her/his claim is not made in that week. For example, this would enable a person moving in over a weekend - and who is therefore unable to make her/his claim in the same week - to receive housing benefit for her/his entire stay.

How quickly the first payment should be made

Once provided with the necessary information and evidence, the local authority must start paying housing benefit within 14 days or as soon as reasonably practicable after that.[10]

Payments on account

Except for council tenants, if the local authority is unable to assess the claim within 14 days, it should make a payment on account (sometimes also called an 'interim payment' or 'estimated payment') until a decision on the exact entitlement can be made.[11] This applies even if the claimant is unable to provide all the necessary information and evidence (for example, if s/he has been unable to get evidence of the rent or tenancy because of the landlord's non-co-operation), so long as it is not the claimant who has obstructed the assessment of the claim.

The amount paid must be what the local authority considers reasonable on the basis of the information available. After a payment on account is made, the local authority must continue to assess the claim in the normal way and come to a decision about the actual entitlement. If the entitlement is more than the payments on account, the difference will be made up. If entitlement is found to be less, housing benefit will be reduced for a period of time to recoup this.[12]

[1] reg 76(1) Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213; reg 57(1) Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for pension credit) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/214.

[2] regs 83 and 85 Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213 as amended by reg 7 Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions) and Housing Benefit (Amendment) Regulations 2013 SI 2013/2070; regs 64 and 66 Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for pension credit) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/214, each as amended by Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (Amendment) (No 2) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/2967 and Social Security (Electronic Communications) (Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit) Order 2006 SI 2006/2968.

[3] reg 64(1) Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for pension credit) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/214.

[4] reg 64(1A) and 64(6)(a) Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for pension credit) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/214.

[5] Social Security (Equalisation of State Pension Age) Regulations 2009 SI 2009/1488.

[6] s.1 Pension Act 2011.

[7] reg 76(2) Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213; reg 57(2) Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for pension credit) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/214.

[8] reg 80 Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213; SL v Renfrewshire Council [2014] UKUT 411 (AAC).

[9] reg 76(3) Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213, as inserted by reg 8(4) Social Security (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/588, and amended by reg 2(2) Housing Benefit (Daily Liability Entitlement) Amendment Regulations 2007 SI 2007/294; reg 57(2) Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for pension credit) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/214, as amended by reg 3(2) Housing Benefit (Daily Liability Entitlement) Amendment Regulations 2007 SI 2007/294.

[10] reg 91(3) Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213; reg 72(3) Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for pension credit) Regulations 2006,SI 2006/214.

[11] reg 93 Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213; reg 74 Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for pension credit) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/214.

[12] reg 93(3) Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213; reg 74(3) Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for pension credit) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/214.

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