2. What you'll get

You may get help with all or part of your rent. There’s no set amount of Housing Benefit and what you get will depend on whether you rent privately or from a council.

Use a benefits calculator to work out what you could get or check what extra help is available.

Council and social housing rent

How much you get depends on:

  • your ‘eligible’ rent
  • if you have a spare room
  • your household income - including benefits, pensions and savings (over £6,000)
  • your circumstances - eg age of people in the house, if someone has a disability

Eligible rent

Eligible rent means the reasonable rent for a suitable property in your area. It includes service charges (eg for lift maintenance or a communal laundry) but not things like heating.

Spare bedrooms

Your Housing Benefit could be reduced if you live in council or social housing and have a spare bedroom. The reduction is:

  • 14% of the ‘eligible rent’ for 1 spare bedroom
  • 25% of the ‘eligible rent’ for 2 or more spare bedrooms

Example reduced housing benefit

Your eligible rent is £100 per week. Housing Benefit pays £50 and you pay £50. You have 1 spare bedroom so the reduction is 14%. This means your Housing Benefit will be reduced by £14 per week.

Sharing bedrooms

The following are expected to share:

  • an adult couple
  • 2 children under 16 of the same sex
  • 2 children under 10 (regardless of sex)

The following can have their own bedroom:

  • a single adult (16 or over)
  • a child that would normally share but shared bedrooms are already taken, eg you’ve 3 children and 2 already share
  • children who can’t share because of a disability or medical condition
  • a non-resident overnight carer for you or your partner (but only if they must stay overnight)

One spare bedroom is allowed for:

  • an approved foster carer who is between placements but only for up to 52 weeks from the end of the last placement
  • a newly approved foster carer for up to 52 weeks from the date of approval if no child is placed with them during that time

Rooms used by students and members of the armed or reserve forces will not be counted as ‘spare’ if they’re away and intend to return home.

Private rent

How much you get is usually based on:

Property Weekly amount
1 bedroom (or shared accommodation) Up to £250
2 bedrooms Up to £290
3 bedrooms Up to £340
4 bedrooms Up to £400

Exception

If you’ve been getting Housing Benefit since before 7 April 2008, these limits only apply if you:

  • change address
  • have a break in your claim for Housing Benefit

How you’re paid

Housing Benefit is paid by your local council as follows:

  • council tenants - into your rent account (you won’t receive the money)
  • private tenants - into your bank or building society account (rarely by cheque)

The benefit cap

The benefit cap limits the amount of benefit that most people aged 16 to 64 can get.

If you’re affected, your Housing Benefit will go down to make sure that the total amount of benefit you get isn’t more than the cap level.

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