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What is housing benefit?

This content applies to England

A general introduction to housing benefit and relevant legislation.

Housing benefit

Housing benefit is a national scheme to assist those on low incomes to meet their rent payments. It is administered by local authorities (which may contract out this service) and can be claimed by social security benefit claimants (such as those on income support, jobseeker's allowance, employment and support allowance, incapacity benefit or pension credit), low earners and others with a low income, subject to the relevant criteria being met.

In many cases, housing benefit does not cover all of the claimant's rent and so s/he may have to make up the shortfall her/himself.

Housing benefit is also called 'rent rebate' for council tenants and 'rent allowance' for private tenants and tenants of housing associations/private registered providers of social housing (PRPSHs).

The local housing allowance scheme (LHA) is an alternative method of calculating housing benefit for most tenants in private rented sector.

Please see the section on LHA for more information.

Housing benefit regulations

The principal regulations governing the housing benefit scheme are the Housing Benefit Regulations 2006[1] (which covers claimants of working age), and the Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for state pension credit) Regulations 2006.[2] Both of which have been subject to many amendments.

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.[3] The state pension age for women will increase 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.[4]

The Gov.uk state pension calculator can be used to calculate a claimant's pension age.

[1] Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213, as amended.

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

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

[4] s.1 Pensions Act 2011.

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