Housing undoubtedly is the single most significant expense for most households in the United Kingdom. Thanks to the soaring rental costs, the average cost of living in the UK has gone up. For those unemployed and on low income, there is a way to mitigate stress and receive help on paying rent. Housing Benefit is a form of financial assistance offered by the UK government to British citizens for paying their rent. It is beneficial for those unemployed and on very low income. The housing benefit scheme, which currently is being replaced by Universal Credit, provides significant financial relief to citizens who are unable to pay their rent while still meeting their other daily expenses.
What is the Eligibility
The eligibility criteria which a particular individual is required to meet in order to qualify for the housing benefit scheme are stated below:
- If you are supported or living in temporary accommodation provided by the council or survivors of domestic abuse and living in refugee situations.
- If you fall in low-income category.
- Your savings are not more than sixteen thousand dollar per year.
- If you have achieved the age of eligibility, the State Pension Age.
- If you live with your spouse and both of them have reached the state pension age, or at least one of you have reached the state pension age before fifteenth day of fifth month in 2019 and you are claiming the pension benefit, then you are eligible to make a new claim under the Housing Benefit program.
Here, it is worth noting that these eligibility guidelines have certain exceptions. In the event the individual is incorporated under the Guarantee Credit part of the two parts of the Pension Credit, i.e., the Guarantee Credit and the Savings Credit, then he/she may get the full rent covered under the Housing Benefit as his/her income and savings will not be taken into account under such a scenario. By comparing a tenant’s salary to the amount of income that the government has determined for an individual, the housing executive determines how much benefit he or she is entitled to.
Who Cannot Claim the Housing Benefit?
There are certain exclusion criteria for the Housing Benefit Program. In case the individual is eligible for guaranteed credit or pension credit or the individual or his/her spouse has savings of more than $16,000 he/she would not be eligible to claim the housing benefit program. Again, if they have a mortgage on their existing home, which they are paying off, then also they won’t be able to apply for the Housing Benefit Program.
Apart from these there are certain other exclusion criteria like if they are living in the home of a relative, most likely one of their close relatives or they are already eligible for Universal Credit and are claiming the benefit then also the housing benefit program would not be applicable on them. Lastly, if the individual’s spouse is already claiming housing benefit and lives with his or her partner or the person is currently unemployed and enrolled as a full-time student then also, they would be ineligible to claim the benefit.
How to Apply for Housing Benefit?
The housing benefit form can be downloaded online or can be collected from the Housing Executive Office. The individual may request a claim form in case the local council does not accept the online form. The claim form needs to be backed by certain evidence like identity proof, income proof, etc. In cases where the individual needs help in filling out the claim form, he/she can contact the local housing benefit council executive.
How to Contact for Assistance
For help with application for Housing Benefit or status, you are advised to contact your local office. You can locate one using the link here. For Pension Credit you can call 0800 99 1234. And for Universal Credit helpline you can dial 0800 328 5644.
If the authority rejects your application of housing benefits, you can ask for a written explanation on their decision. An appeal can be made within one month of the date of the decision letter or the date of new notification. You’ll have to wait until the council makes a decision on whether or not you’re eligible for Housing Benefit. If you miss the one month deadline, you can still file an appeal if you were unable to do so sooner, such as because you or a member of your family was critically ill. If the council agrees that you were unable to appeal in time, the decision will be reviewed.