How to deal with changes to your housing benefit


How changes affect housing benefit

What happens when you report a change

The council decides if you’re still entitled to housing benefit and how much you’ll get.

They might suspend your payments while they consider the change especially if they need further information.

The council should write to you, usually within 2 weeks of deciding your entitlement. The letter must include information on challenging the decision if you think it’s wrong.

Starting work or increasing your hours

Your housing benefit entitlement will usually go down if:

  • you start work or self-employment
  • your income or working hours increase

Housing benefit goes down by 65p for every £1 you get in extra income above the amount you'd receive in benefits if you weren't working.

Most of your wages and any tax credits count as extra income.

Extended payments for 4 weeks

Your housing benefit can be paid for a further 4 weeks at the full rate if starting work or increasing your income means you no longer qualify for one of the following:

  • income support  
  • jobseeker’s allowance (JSA)
  • employment and support allowance (ESA)

You must have claimed one of these benefits for at least 6 months and the work or increased income must be expected to last for at least 5 weeks.

After 4 weeks, your housing benefit is recalculated based on your new income.

Extended payments are sometimes called ‘housing benefit run-on’.

If you’re affected by the benefit cap

Your housing benefit will increase if you work enough hours to become exempt from the benefit cap.

You need to work at least:

  • 16 hours a week if you’re a single parent
  • 24 hours a week if you’re a couple with children – one of you must work at least 16 hours a week

If you don't have children, you need to work at least 30 hours a week to become exempt from the cap.

Stopping work or reducing your hours

Your housing benefit will probably increase if:

  • you stop work or self-employment
  • your income or working hours go down

If your income varies because you’re self-employed, on a zero hours contract or work overtime you may need to report changes more frequently.

Changes in your household

The number of people living in your home affects the size of property you can claim housing benefit for.

Your bedroom entitlement could increase if:

  • a friend, family member or lodger moves in
  • you have a baby, adopt a child or become a foster carer   
  • your child reaches an age where they’re no longer expected to share
  • a disabled household member can’t share or needs an overnight carer

Your bedroom entitlement could go down if a household member moves out although certain temporary absences are allowed.

Find out more about the number of bedrooms you can claim for if you’re a council or housing association tenant or when renting privately.

Bereavement

Tell the council if anyone living in your home dies.

Your housing benefit will usually remain unchanged for 12 months unless you move home or your income increases. Your entitlement is then recalculated a year after the death.

Deductions for adult household members

Your housing benefit can be reduced if adult friends or family members live with you. Certain adult occupiers are expected to contribute to the rent under the rules.

Tell the council if:

  • your child turns 18 or leaves education
  • an adult friend or family member moves in, starts work or increases their income

The council will make a non-dependant deduction in some cases.

Rent increases

Report any rent increases. 

Your housing benefit payments will probably stay the same if you’re renting privately. 

This is because the local housing allowance (LHA) rate that applies to your household is the maximum you can get. Your housing benefit will only increase if your actual weekly rent is lower than this figure. 

Moving home

Report the move as a change in circumstances if you move to a new home in the same council area. The council will recalculate your housing benefit based on your new rent.

If you move to a different council area, you must either:

Use the entitledto checker to find out which to claim

Let your old council know when you’re moving so they can end your claim at your previous address.


Last updated 24 Sep 2018 | © Shelter

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