Who can claim Housing Benefit instead of Universal Credit?

Anyone who is already claiming Housing Benefit, rather than Universal Credit for help with their rent will continue to claim Housing Benefit, until such time as they have change in their circumstances which triggers a migration to Universal Credit.

You can only make a new claim for Housing Benefit if you fall into one or more of categories 1 - 4 below:


If you are single you are classed as a pensioner once you have reached the qualifying age for Pension Credit*.

If you are part of a couple**, you are classed as a pensioner if you have both reached the qualifying age for Pension Credit*.

If you are part of a couple and only one of you have reached the qualifying age for Pension Credit you have the choice:

  • the person who has reached Pension Credit age (the older person of the couple) can make a claim for Housing Benefit for the both of you; or
  • the person who has not yet reached the qualifying age for Pension Credit (the younger person in the couple) can make a claim for Universal Credit, for both of you.

However, you cannot receive Housing Benefit and the Housing Cost element of Universal Credit for the same period.

*The qualifying age for pension Credit is linked to the date that a woman qualifies for her State Retirement Pension. This qualifying age has been gradually increasing since 2010 and will be 65 for both men and women by November 2018.

**You are part of a couple if you live with your partner.  A partner is someone you are married to or have a civil partnership with, or a person you live with as if you were their husband, wife or civil partner.

To see when you (or your partner if you have one) reach(ed) the qualifying age for Pension Credit, please use the Pension Age Calculator in the 'Related links' area of this page.

If you have more than 2 dependent children* who are still in full time further education, you cannot currently make a claim for Universal Credit, unless you have received Universal Credit within the last 6 months.  As such you must claim Housing Benefit for help with your rent instead.

You may also be able to claim Child Tax Credits for your children and / or other Department for Work and Pensions benefits (e.g. Income Support / Income based Jobseekers Allowance / Income-related Employment and Support Allowance), for you or your partner (if you have one) if you meet the qualifying conditions for those benefits.

*A dependent child is classed as a person under the age of 20 who is still in full time non advanced education, for whom child benefit is paid to you or your partner.

If you need assistance in determining whether you fall into this category, you should contact the council straight away for further advice and guidance.

Areas with a postcode beginning L9 will not become a Universal Credit Full Service area until January 2018, whilst areas with a postcode beginning L10 will not become a Universal Credit Full Service area until May 2018. If you live in these areas and are not already on Universal Credit, until the areas are designated as Full Service areas, you may be able to make a new claim for Housing Benefit.

Tenants of certain types of Supported Accommodation will receive help with their rent from Housing Benefit, rather than Universal Credit, even if they receive Universal Credit for their other living costs.

This provision is restricted to accommodation which is classified as 'Specified Accommodation'

Specified Accommodation includes the following: -

  • Domestic violence refuges
  • Homeless Hostels (but not self-contained properties)
  • Properties owned by either Housing Associations, registered charities or voluntary organisations and you require and receive support in your home which is more than minimal.

In most cases, if you live in supported housing, your landlord should be able to tell you whether or not your home is classed as 'Specified Accommodation' or not.  Alternatively, you can ring the council directly for further advice or guidance on this matter.

However, as a general rule, the following categories of tenants do not fall under the definition of 'Specified Accommodation':

  • Tenants of sheltered accommodation for over 50s
  • Tenants who receive low levels of support or floating support which amounts to less than 2 – 3 hours per week.

Move from being out of work to being in work: Current Income-based Jobseekers Allowance / Income Support claimants, or their partners, who start work or increase their working hours beyond a set threshold are no longer able to make a new claim for Working Tax Credit, as such, they need to make a new claim for Universal Credit instead. Those with an existing Tax Credit claim can continue to claim Tax Credit.

Move from in work to out of work: Current Working Tax Credit claimants whose hours reduce to less than 16 hours per week are no longer able to make a new claim to Income-based Jobseekers Allowance or Income Support and should be advised to make an online claim to Universal Credit.

Move from out of work to sick: Current Income-based Job Seekers Allowance / Income Support claimants are no longer able to make a new claim to Income-related Employment Support Allowance and should be advised to make an online claim to Universal Credit.

Move from sick to in work (or permitted work becomes permanent): Current Income-related Employment Support Allowance claimants are no longer able to make a new claim to Tax Credits and should be advised to make an online claim to Universal Credit. Those with an existing Tax Credit claim can continue to claim Tax Credit.

Move from being unfit for work (sick) to being available for work: Current Income-related Employment Support Allowance claimants are no longer able to make a new claim to Income-based Jobseekers Allowance or Income Support so should be advised to make an online claim to Universal Credit.

Move from in work to sick (reduction in hours due to sickness): Current Working Tax Credit claimants are no longer able to make a new claim to Income-related Employment Support Allowance and should be advised to make an online claim to Universal Credit.

Household becomes responsible for a child for the 1st time: Claimants are no longer able to make a new claim to Tax Credits and should be advised if they wish to claim for additional financial support because they have a child living with them to make an online claim to Universal Credit. Those with an existing Tax Credit claim can continue to claim Tax Credit

Claimants separate: For example: Current joint Tax Credit claimants who separate are unable to make a new claim to Tax Credits as a single person. Claimants should be advised to make an online claim to Universal Credit if they continue to require additional financial support; if they have (a) child(ren) living with them or are on a low income.

Youngest child of lone parent on income support reaches 5 years old or permanently leaves household: Current Income Support claimants are no longer able to make a new claim to Income-based Jobseekers Allowance or Income-related Employment Support Allowance, when their award to Income Support ends they should be advised to make an online claim to Universal Credit.

HB claimant moves from LA into a Universal Credit Full Service area LA: Existing Housing Benefit claimants who move into Sefton are no longer able to make a new claim to Housing Benefit in Sefton and should be advised if they wish to continue to obtain financial support with their rent to make an online claim to Universal Credit.

A carer on Income Support stops being entitled to Carers Allowance: Current Income Support claimants are no longer able to make a new claim to Income-based Jobseekers Allowance or Income-related Employment Support Allowance when their award to Income Support ends and should be advised to make an online claim to Universal Credit.

Stopping an existing claim when a claim to Universal Credit-Full Service is made: If a new claim to Universal Credit Full Service is made, and there is a current Income-based Jobseekers Allowance; Income-related Employment Support Allowance; Income Support; Housing Benefit or Tax Credits claim then Universal Credit Full Service will contact Benefit Centres/Local Authorities and/or H M Revenue & Customs to stop the existing claims.

 


Last Updated on 02 November 2017

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