Housing Benefit if you rent from a Housing Association

If you are of working age and looking to apply for Housing Benefit, you might not be eligible unless you fall into specific exceptional categories. For most working age individuals, assistance with rent is typically available through Universal Credit. To find out more about who can claim, visit the 'Who can claim' page. 

If you have made a claim for, or you are already receiving Universal Credit, in most cases, you cannot make a new claim for Housing Benefit as your rent is already taken into account as part of your Universal Credit claim. 

If the amount of help you get with your rent from Housing Benefit or the Housing element of Universal credit does not cover your rent in full (and you cannot afford to pay the difference yourself), you may qualify for further assistance from the council by way of a Discretionary Housing Payment.

If you are already on Housing Benefit (or you are someone who can make a new claim for Housing Benefit) and, you rent your home is rented from a Housing Association (such as One Vision Housing, Riverside etc.), depending on your circumstances, you could receive Housing Benefit that covers 100% of your rent (including certain service charges).

Housing Benefit cannot pay for certain charges included in your rent. Examples of these include: heating and lighting, cooking and hot water, water rates, meals/food, general counselling and support.

If you or your partner are entitled to any of the following benefits, you will be entitled to maximum Housing Benefit, less any deductions for any non-dependant adult who live with you and your partner.

  • Guaranteed Pension Credit
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Job Seekers Allowance.

If you are working or receive any other type of benefit, or Tax Credits, the amount of Housing Benefit you get will be based on the income and capital that you and your partner have.

We compare your total weekly income with a figure, set by the government, based on your individual or family needs, this figure is known as your “Applicable Amount”. For most families, the applicable amount will only take account of a maximum of two dependent children. Please contact the council if you would like any further information about this.

If your assessed income is less than or the same as your applicable amount you should receive maximum Housing Benefit, less any deductions for non-dependant adults living with you.

If your assessed income is more than your applicable amount, then your Housing Benefit will be reduced by 65p for each £1.00 that your income is over your applicable amount and by any deductions for non-dependant adults living with you.

If you are subject to “The benefit cap” the amount you are entitled to could also then be reduced further.


For most working age customers, the amount of help that you can receive by way of Housing Benefit will be reduced if you are under-occupying your housing association property.

These size-related rules are commonly known as “the Bedroom Tax”. 

The size related rules will not affect you if any of the following apply:

  • You have (or your partner has) reached the age of 66
  • You live in a shared ownership property.
  • You reside in a certain type of supported accommodation known as “exempt accommodation”.
  • You live in temporary accommodation provided by the council under homelessness rules.

If you do not fall under any of the exemptions, we will need to work out if you are under-occupying your home. This is done by comparing the number of bedrooms your household needs to the number of bedrooms you actually have, in your home.

We work out the number of bedrooms you need in your home,  by using a set criteria.

One bedroom is allowed foe each of the following: -

  •  a single claimant or any adult couple
  •  any two children aged under 10
  •  any two children of the same sex aged 15 or under
  •  any other adult aged 16 or over
  •  any other child
  • a non-resident carer**

**A bedroom is allowed for a carer, who lives elsewhere and stays overnight on a regular and frequent basis to look after anyone in your household, provided there is a ‘spare’ bedroom available for them to use.**

Additional bedrooms can also be allowed in certain specific circumstances:

  • Foster carers - If you have foster children placed with you or have had any foster children placed with you in the last 12 months or have become an approved foster carer within the last 12 months.
  • Member of the Armed Forces - If you have a member of your household who would be resident at the property but is absent because they have been deployed on operations as part of their armed service.
  • Disabled Children - If you have a disabled child who would normally be expected to share a bedroom with another child, but due to the nature of their disability, it is not reasonable to do so as this would result in regular sleep disturbance to the other child.
  • Disabled couples - If you and your partner sleep in separate bedrooms because it is not reasonable to share due to a disability which one or both of you may have.

If we calculate that you have more bedrooms than you need, the following deductions will be made from any possible entitlement to Housing Benefit.

  • 14% of your rent (including charges for eligible services) if you are deemed to have one spare bedroom
  • 25% of your rent (including charges for eligible services) if you are deemed to have two or more spare bedrooms

We take a total of all income for you and your partner from all sources, including state benefits, pensions, Tax Credits and earnings.

If you are working we will disregard all Tax, National Insurance and half of any pension contributions made into a private pension. In addition we have earnings disregards of between £5 and £42.10 per week (depending on your circumstances), that can also be taken off earned income. Also if you work and pay childcare costs to a registered childminder or nursery, we may be able to deduct some or all of your childcare costs from your earnings.

Certain types of income are not counted at all as income, such as Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment, Child Maintenance received, Child Benefit, Bereavement Support Payment and certain War Pensions.

All self-employed people are eligible to make a claim for both Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction, no matter what the nature of the business.

This includes people who are sole traders, those who jointly run a business, those who run a business that also employs others, child minders, taxi drivers and anyone who may be a Director of a company. This list is not exhaustive.

When looking at the income of the business we will ask you to provide your last thirteen weeks income and expenses figures. This will enable us to see how your business is trading in the current economic situation.

We will ask you to complete a self-employed income and expenditure form, which should be completed with your last 13 weeks details. You should also provide receipts for business expenses. You will be asked to provide a copy of your most recent year end accounts, i.e. profit and loss and balance sheets. This will enable us to compare how your business traded in your last full year, to the current thirteen weeks details that you will provide.

With regards to taxi drivers, we have a separate taxi driver income and expenditure form for completion, as the information we require from taxi drivers differs from that of other self-employed.

If you are only just starting out in business and are unable to supply any records, we will still ask you to complete the self-employed income and expenditure form for the period of time that you have been trading and request that you provide an estimate of your income and expenditure for a forthcoming period of time. The estimated period of time will usually start from the date you are completing the self-employed income and expenditure form and the forthcoming thirteen weeks.

If you visit either Sefton One Stop Shop for help in completing the self-employed income and expenditure form you will need to bring along any weekly record book you keep, showing your income from the business and any expenses you have incurred. You should also provide receipts for expenses, i.e. receipts for petrol/diesel, goods purchased, utility bills paid, insurance premiums, telephone bills, rent paid on business premises and any other relevant business expenses.

Once we have received all the details of your income and expenses we will then calculate an assumed weekly income from your business on which to calculate your benefit claim. This will be reviewed periodically by us and you can also ask for your income to be reviewed at any time.

The income we will include will be all monies coming in to the business, but may not include certain sums of capital paid in to the business during the period being looked at.

We will then take off any allowable expenses that are wholly and exclusively incurred by the business. Examples of allowable expenses are listed below:

• Rent paid on business premises. 
• Purchases of stocks and supplies. 
• Advertising, postage and stationery. 
• Fuel and other vehicle running costs. 
• Telephone. 
• Wages paid for staff employed by the business. 

The list is not exhaustive. In looking at the expenses of the business there are certain expenses that we do not allow, which the Inland Revenue do, such as depreciation.

Total income minus any allowable business expenses = Pre Tax Profit

Pre-tax profit minus notional Income Tax, notional National Insurance contributions and half of any pension contributions = Net Profit

We will calculate your notional income tax and National Insurance deductions ourselves based on your net profit figure. These figures may differ from the figures worked out by the Inland Revenue.

Child minders are treated differently. Instead of working out what your actual expenses are, we will use a third of your gross weekly takings to calculate your income. WE do not take any expenses into account.

We understand that this may be the first time that you have applied for benefit and the information that we request may seem daunting, but we would ask that you do not let this put you off making a claim for benefit. You can either visit one of the Sefton One Stop Shop offices in either Bootle or Southport or contact the council on 0345 140 0845. 

If you (AND your partner, if you have one), are under 66 years of age, for every £250 or part of £250, between £6000 and £16,000, an additional £1 per week in income will be added.

If you (AND your partner, if you have one), have reached your 66th Birthday, for every £500 or part of £500, between £10,000 and £16,000 an additional £1 per week in income will be added.

If you have £16,000 savings or above you will not be entitled to Housing Benefit (unless you are receiving Guaranteed Pension Credit).

The amount of Housing Benefit you may be entitled to, could be reduced if you have any other adults (aged 18 or over) living with you. These adults are known as “Non-dependants”

Grown up sons or daughters or elderly relatives are usually classed as Non Dependants. However, your partner and or any person who pays you rent (e.g. a Boarder or Lodger) are not.

Non dependant deductions reduce the amount of Housing Benefit you receive, depending on the circumstances of the non-dependant living with you.

Non-dependant deductions vary from zero, if they aged under 25, (or over 66) AND getting certain means tested social security benefits, to a maximum of £124.55 per week if their gross weekly income (before deductions of Tax and NI etc) is above £554 per week.

If you, (or your partner) receive any of the following disability benefits, or are registered blind, then non-dependant deductions WILL NOT be made from your entitlement.

  • Attendance Allowance,
  • the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
  • the care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • Armed Forced Independence Payment.




The Housing Benefit rules regarding temporary absence from your home can be fairly complex, but have been summarised below.

As a general rule, Housing Benefit can be paid for up to 13 weeks during an absence from your home regardless of the reason, if:

  • You intend to return home; and
  • Your home is not let or sub-let during your period of absence, and
  • You expect your absence to be less than 13 weeks.
  • You remain inside Great Britain

In certain specific circumstances, you may be temporarily absent for up to 52 weeks and still get benefit. For example, if you are:

  • A hospital in-patient
  • In a residential care home on a temporary basis
  • Receiving medically approved treatment, care or convalescence
  • Providing medically approved care or caring for a child whose parent or guardian is receiving medical treatment or medically approved care
  • A prisoner on remand
  • A vulnerable student
  • Absent through fear of violence

If anyone is outside Great Britain

If you or anyone who normally lives with you, are absent from your home and you are also outside of Great Britain for a period of 4 weeks or more, your entitlement to Housing benefit may reduce or end altogether.

If you would like to know more about the rules regarding temporary absence and if or how you could be affected by them, please contact the council directly for more information.

* Great Britain DOES NOT include Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands.

When any decision is made on your Housing Benefit claim, you will receive a letter telling you about the decision. This could be an entitlement letter showing when your entitlement commences and the amount of benefit you have been awarded. It could also be a letter refusing your application, refusing to backdate your claim or even notifying you that you have been paid too much benefit.

If you think the decision is wrong, or if you want to know more about this decision, you must contact us within one calendar month of the date on your decision letter. If you delay, we may not be able to consider any dispute.

You can contact us by phone or in writing and can either ask for an explanation. or ask us to look again at the decision. 

If the decision can be changed, we will send you a new decision. If we feel unable to change the original decision, we will tell you why.

After this, if you are still not happy, you can then ask for your appeal to be heard by an Independent Tribunal. You must make this request in writing to us, within one calendar month of our reply, and we will refer your case to be considered by the Tribunals Service.

If you appeal outside of this initial calendar month, your appeal will be classed as late and it would then be up to the Tribunals Service Chairman to decide if your late appeal could be heard.

If the Tribunals Service decides to hear your case, they will give you the option of having a ‘paper hearing’ or an ‘oral hearing’.

The paper hearing option would mean that the tribunal make a decision based upon the evidence submitted in the paperwork and you will not be required to attend a hearing or give evidence before the tribunal.

The oral hearing option would mean that you would have the opportunity to attend the hearing and state your case before the tribunal. One of our representatives would also attend in order to assist the Tribunal with any questions regarding how we have come to the decision under dispute.

Once you start receiving Housing Benefit you must tell the benefit section about any changes in your own, or any members of your household's circumstances that may affect your entitlement to Housing Benefit straight away.

It is important to notify the benefit section within one calendar month of the date of the change to prevent any loss of entitlement to benefit or reduce the amount of any overpaid benefit that may happen due to the change.

Why has my claim been suspended?

We usually suspend a claim when we have been informed of a change in circumstances that could end or reduce your entitlement to Housing Benefit, such as a change of address or where entitlement to a DWP benefit has stopped. 

The claim is suspended to try and reduce the amount of any overpayment of Housing Benefit.

If we need more information to action the change we will write to you, you must reply to us within one month of the date of the letter. Once we have all the necessary information to action the change this will be done and the suspension lifted.

What if I wish to cancel my claim?

If you wish to cancel your claim you must contact the benefit section as soon as possible. You should also confirm, in writing, the reason why you want your claim to be cancelled and the date you want your claim to be cancelled from.

What is an overpayment?

An overpayment occurs when you have received benefit that you were not entitled to. Overpayments of Housing Benefit can occur due to various reasons, such as:

• You moving out of your home.
• Someone else moving in to or out of your home.
• You or a member of your household may have started work.
• You or a member of your household may have had an increase in income or capital.

If you have been paid too much benefit you will normally be asked to pay back the overpayment, this is known as a recoverable overpayment.
When an overpayment occurs we will write to you, the letter will tell you:

• The reason you have received too much
• A breakdown of the overpayment.
• How much the overpayment is.
• If you have to pay back the amount.
• How the overpayment will be recovered.
• How you can appeal if you think the overpayment is incorrect. 

We will look at who has caused the overpayment and to whom benefit has been paid and then make our decision if the overpayment is recoverable and if so, who to recover it from.

If you still have an ongoing entitlement to Housing Benefit we will usually recover any overpayment by reducing your entitlement by a set amount, until the overpayment has been cleared in full. This process is commonly know as clawback deductions.

If you no longer qualify for Housing Benefit, we will send you an invoice for the full amount of the overpayment.

If you wish to have the amount of any clawback that is being taken from your ongoing entitlement to benefit reduced, you can request this by contacting the Housing Benefit Overpayment Team on 0151 934 4348. If you wish to make arrangements to pay on an invoice received, then you should contact the Accounts Recoverable Section on 0151 934 4147.

What if I do not agree with the overpayment?

If you disagree with the overpayment you must write in to the Benefits Section within one calendar month of the date on the decision letter. Your full appeal rights will be shown on the overpayment letter and the decision letter

If the amount of Housing Benefit you receive does not cover all of your rent and this, along with other circumstances causes you hardship, you can apply to the council for a Discretionary Housing Payment.

This is not a payment of Housing Benefit but is a discretionary payment paid to claimants at the discretion of the council to help meet the housing costs of the claimant and their family.

It can be paid direct to you via direct payment in to your bank account. If you do not already have a bank account, you will need to open one in order to receive your Housing benefit. Most people can open a basic bank account. Alternatively, you can choose to have benefit paid directly to your landlord instead.

If you want to find out if you will qualify for help with your rent, you can:

  • Use the 'Check your eligibility' link here 
  • Contact the council's Welfare Officer on 0151 934 3946


To sign up for online notification letters, go to the View your claim and letters section and choose 'Register for online letters' and enter your details. You will need your current claim reference to do this.



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