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How long a housing benefit award lasts

This content applies to England

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

How long an award of housing benefit lasts and the date on which an entitlement ends.

General rule for housing benefit entitlement

An award of housing benefit lasts indefinitely, although the local authority is likely to check on the claimant's details from time to time.

An award continues until the claimant:

  • ceases to be entitled (for example, they inherit a large amount of capital) or
  • fails to respond to a check on their circumstances. In this case, the local authority first suspends the claimant's award, warning the claimant in writing that unless they respond, their housing benefit will stop altogether[1]
  • becomes entitled to universal credit (see below).

Changes in circumstances

Where a change in circumstances ends a claimant's entitlement, their housing benefit award will continue until the end of the benefit week in which the changed occurred (unless they are entitled to extended payments).[2]

There is an exception to this rule for all tenancies with a daily rent liability, including those in hostels[3] and certain other accommodation provided by a local authority under its statutory duties to a homeless person.[4] For such claims, the effective date is the day the change actually occurs, so residents only receive housing benefit for the exact days for which payments are due.

Claimant becomes entitled to universal credit

Where an applicant currently claiming housing benefit makes a successful claim for universal credit (UC), they will continue to receive housing benefit for two weeks after becoming entitled to UC.[5] Until migration of existing housing benefit claims begins, this is likely to be because of a change of circumstances. This will not apply where the applicant is in temporary accommodation or specified accommodation, as these claimants will continue to receive housing benefit in any case (see payment condition).[6] The Government housing benefit bulletin answers to frequently asked questions about this overlapping entitlement.[7]

Extended housing benefit payments

Extended payments help people who get work while receiving housing benefit. They give claimants an extra four weeks of housing benefit. The main conditions for getting an extended payment are that the claimant or any partner:[8]

  • starts employment or self-employment, or increases their hours or earnings, for a period of at least five weeks
  • has been entitled to income support, income-based jobseeker's allowance, incapacity benefit or severe disability allowance for at least 26 weeks prior to the claim.

A claimant who qualifies for an extended payment should be awarded it, but this does not always happen and it is advisable for the claimant to inform the local authority if they consider that they qualify. After the extended payment period, a claimant may be entitled to some housing benefit on top of their earnings, and should claim for this separately by sending in a new claim form.

[1] regs 11-14 Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (Decisions and Appeals) Regulations 2001 SI 2001/1002.

[2] reg 77 Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213; reg 59(1) Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for pension credit) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/214.

[3] As defined in reg 2 Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213.

[4] reg 79(8) Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213, as amended by reg 2(3) Housing Benefit (Daily Liability Entitlement) Amendment Regulations 2007 SI 2007/294; reg 59(8) Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for pension credit) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/214, as amended by reg 3(3) Housing Benefit (Daily Liability Entitlement) Amendment Regulations 2007 SI 2007/294.

[5] reg 8(2A) Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2014 SI 2014/1230 as inserted by reg 6(8) Universal Credit (Miscellaneous Amendments, Saving and Transitional Provision) Regulations 2018 SI 2018/65.

[6] reg 8(3) Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2014 SI 2014/1230 as amended by reg 3(2)(d) Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions)(Amendment) Regulations 2014 and reg 6(7)(c) Universal Credit (Miscellaneous Amendments, Saving and Transitional Provision) Regulations 2018 SI 2018/65.

[7] HB Bulletin G5/2018.

[8] regs 72-73 and Schs.7-8 Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213; reg 53 and Sch.7 Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for pension credit) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/214.

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