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Last updated:
08/11/2017

Can I claim Welfare Benefits if I’m living with a mental illness?

Housing Benefit

  1. Overview
  2. How do I check what I’m entitled to?
  3. Universal Credit
  4. Employment and Support Allowance
  5. Jobseeker’s Allowance
  6. Income Support
  7. Incapacity Benefit
  8. Severe Disablement Allowance
  9. Statutory Sick Pay
  10. Working Tax Credits
  11. Personal Independence Payment
  12. Housing Benefit
  13. Support for Mortgage Interest
  14. Council Tax: Exemptions and support to pay
  15. Social Fund
  16. Next steps

What is Housing Benefit?

Housing Benefit (HB) is a benefit to help people on a low income to pay their rent. It is usually paid by your local council – you can’t use it to pay your mortgage.

Can I claim HB?

You can claim HB if you:

  • Are not excluded from getting housing benefit,
  • Have to pay rent on your normal home,
  • Do not have savings and capital more than £16,000, and
  • Are claiming:
    • Employment and support allowance,
    • Income-related jobseeker’s allowance,
    • Income support,
    • Guarantee credit of pension credit, or
    • Have a low income.

Some people are excluded from being able to claim housing benefit. The list is very long and we’ve not included all of them here, but these are the most common exclusions:

  • You lived in your home before you started renting it.
  • You live with your landlord who is a close relative.

You can sometimes claim HB if you live in a property owned by a close relative as long as they do not live there too; the rules can be complicated. You should speak to a welfare rights adviser if you want to claim HB to live in your relative’s property.

Local Housing Allowance

Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rules are used to work out how much housing benefit you get if you rent from a private landlord. The LHA rates depend on how old you are, what area you live in, the number of people in your household and the size of the property. This can range from a single room in a shared house up to a property with four bedrooms.

LHA rates for the size of accommodation should be available from the local council and this could help you to work out how much housing benefit you would get if you moved to a new address. Find out LHA rates.

The amount of housing benefit you get can go up if you:

  • Have evidence that you need overnight care,
  • Are getting that care, and
  • Need an extra room in your property.

You may be able to claim HB for a property with an extra room. For example, if you have a non-resident carer that needs to stay overnight a lot of the time.

People under the age of 21 may not be able to claim housing benefit and if this applies to you, you will need to talk to your local council.

Single people under the age of 35 without children usually have a LHA of one bedroom in shared accommodation, but this won’t be applied if they receive a severe disability premium.

The LHA rules will be different for you if you are exempt. The exemptions are:

  • Your private tenancy began before January 1989,
  • You have been claiming housing benefit continuously since 1st January 1996 and you have not moved address,
  • Your home is a resettlement hostel,
  • You need an extra bedroom for a carer who does not live with you but who provides you with overnight care,
  • You are under 22 and have been in the care of a local authority,
  • You are 25 or over and have lived in a hostel for homeless people or a hostel that provides rehabilitation and resettlement within the community for at least three months. You must have received resettlement support to help you live in the community.

 

Renting council or housing association property

From April 2018, your housing benefit will be capped in line with Local Housing Allowance rules (LHA) – see the LHA section for more information.

Housing benefit will cover all of your rent if:

  • Your only income is from means-tested benefits, and
  • You live in a property owned by the local authority or housing association.

You may only get part of the rent paid if you have other income and if so, you are responsible for paying the rest of the rent.

You may get less housing benefit if:

  • Part of your rent pays for bills or services that are not covered by HB. This could include electricity, water charges, meals or laundry services.
  • You have a non-dependant living with you. A non-dependant is someone who should pay towards the rent. Non-dependants may be:
    • An adult child,
    • Friend, or
    • Relative.

Non-dependant deductions are not made if the person living with you is:

  • Under 18,
  • Under 25 and on income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) or assessment-phase income-based employment and support allowance,
  • Under 25 and entitled to Universal Credit, unless they have earnings,
  • On pension credit,
  • Get a Work-Based Learning for young people allowance,
  • Have been in an NHS hospital for over 52 weeks,
  • Have their normal home elsewhere,
  • A prisoner,
  • A member of the armed forces away on operations, or
  • A full-time student.

Non-dependant deductions are not made if you or your partner is:

  • Certified as severely sight impaired or blind by a consultant ophthalmologist,
  • Getting Disability Living Allowance care component at the middle or highest rate,
  • Getting Personal Independence Payment daily living component,
  • Getting Armed Forces Independence Payment,
  • Getting attendance allowance or constant attendance allowance, or
  • Getting pension credit.

 

Bedroom Tax

You will lose some of your housing benefit if you have more bedrooms in your property than you need – this is known as bedroom tax or under-occupying your property.

Your housing benefit will be reduced by:

  • 14% if you have one spare bedroom, or
  • 25% if you have two or more spare bedrooms.

There are some exceptions that allow you to keep one extra bedroom without under-occupying your property.

What if I need the extra bedroom for a carer to stay in?

You may be able to keep one extra bedroom if you, your partner, or your child need overnight care from a carer.

You can keep the bedroom if:

  • You or your partner claim:
    • Attendance allowance,
    • The care component of Disability Living Allowance at the middle or higher rate, or
    • The daily living component of Personal Independence Payment, or
    • Armed Forces Independence Payment.

You can still claim the extra bedroom even if you are not claiming any of the above benefits, but you will have to prove that the overnight carer is needed and you can do this with any certificates, evidence or documents you have. The carer must actually provide overnight care, and stay in the bedroom regularly to claim the exemption.

What if I need the extra bedroom because I cannot share one with my partner because of my/ their disability?

If you cannot share a bedroom with your partner because of your disability or theirs, then you may be able to keep one extra bedroom without the tax. 

You can keep the bedroom if:

  • You or your partner claim:
    • Attendance allowance at the higher rate,
    • The care component of disability living allowance at the middle or higher rate, or
    • The daily living component of Personal Independence Payment, or
    • Armed Forces Independence Payment.

In this case, you or your partner must claim one of the above benefits and prove that you cannot share a room with each other. 

What can I do if I am affected by the bedroom tax?

You have some options to think about if you are affected by the bedroom tax. You could:

  • Move house,
  • Take in a lodger,
  • Apply for discretionary housing payments from your local council,
  • Increase your work hours,
  • Get a benefits check to make sure you are getting everything you are entitled to,
  • Pay the difference out of your benefits or other income if you can afford to do this.

 

Shared Ownership Scheme

Shared ownership means that you buy a share of your home through a shared ownership scheme but still pay rent – you can get housing benefit during this time. You may be able to get help with mortgage interest payments through the Support for Mortgage Interest scheme.

Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP)

To qualify for DHP, you must get housing benefit or council tax support – DHP is not a benefit and this means that you do not have a right to claim it. Your local authority can give you a DHP if they believe that you need extra money to help with housing costs. DHP's are limited, so there is no guarantee that you will get one but you can contact your local authority to apply for DHP.

When will HB stop?

You will be able to keep claiming HB for as long as you need to, providing you meet the conditions.

Within this subject

  1. Overview
  2. How do I check what I’m entitled to?
  3. Universal Credit
  4. Employment and Support Allowance
  5. Jobseeker’s Allowance
  6. Income Support
  7. Incapacity Benefit
  8. Severe Disablement Allowance
  9. Statutory Sick Pay
  10. Working Tax Credits
  11. Personal Independence Payment
  12. Housing Benefit
  13. Support for Mortgage Interest
  14. Council Tax: Exemptions and support to pay
  15. Social Fund
  16. Next steps

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