Housing Benefit frequently asked questions

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What is Housing Benefit?

Housing Benefit is a means-tested benefit for people living in rented accommodation who need help paying their rent. It does not help with household bills and does not help people who have a mortgage on a property they own.

If you are struggling to keep up with your mortgage payments, and also receive a benefit from the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP), you should speak to them to see if you qualify for assistance.

Who can claim housing benefits?

You can only claim Housing Benefit if any of the following apply:

  • you (and your partner if you have one) are a pensioner
  • you live in a hostel or refuge
  • you live in accommodation that includes care, support or supervision
  • you live in temporary accommodation provided by the council

If none of these apply to you, you will need to claim Universal Credit instead. However, if you are able to claim Housing Benefit, you can apply here.

Can I view my claim online?

Yes – if you are receiving Housing Benefit, you can view details of your claim online. Go to My Account now to register or sign in.

What is meant by a commercial tenancy?

A commercial tenancy exists when a tenant pays an agreed rent to the landlord in exchange for the right to live in a property. The living arrangements must ensure a significant level of privacy for the tenant. If the landlord also resides in the same property, the living arrangements must be distinctly separate from one another.

Commercial tenancies are usually supported by a tenancy agreement which can allow the landlord to take action should the tenant not pay their rent.

How is Housing Benefit worked out?

Housing Benefit is a means-tested benefit, and several things are taken into account when working out entitlement:

  • who lives in your household, as well as:
    • their relationship to you and your partner
    • their ages
    • their disabilities
    • their caring responsibilities

  • size of your property, how long you have lived there, who your landlord is and what your rent includes
  • income, capital and some expenses

What is the 'Bedroom Tax'?

You may see a reduction in your Housing Benefit if you:

• are under State Pension Age, and;
• rent your home from a Housing Association or Social Landlord, and;
• have more bedrooms than necessary

You are entitled to one bedroom for each of the following:

  • two people living as a couple (although separate bedrooms may be allowed if there are specific reasons why a single bedroom cannot be shared)
  • a single person over the age of 16
  • two children under the age of 10 (regardless of their sex)
  • two children of the same sex aged under 16 years
  • any other child, or a single child if there are specific medical reasons why they cannot share with another child
  • any adult children who are away at university or serving in the Armed Forces but lived with you before they left, they will still be considered to be part of your household during their leave/holidays or when their course ends (for students)
  • a non-resident overnight carer
    • the amount that Housing Benefit will be reduced by will depend on how many extra bedrooms you have. Housing Benefit will be reduced by 14% if you have one extra bedroom, or 25 per cent if you have two or more extra bedrooms.

What is the 'Benefit Cap'?

There is a limit on the total amount of benefits, including Housing Benefit, that most people aged 16 to 64 can get. This is called the Benefit Cap.

Your Housing Benefit may be reduced to make sure the total amount of benefits you receive each week isn't more than the cap amount.

Find out more about the Benefit Cap

What is a non-dependent deduction?

A non-dependent deduction is where your Housing Benefit is reduced because you have other adults living with you. The rate of the deduction depends on their circumstances and finances. It is important that you give us as much information as possible about any non-dependants. This is so we can make sure any non-dependant deduction is accurate.

How do I make a claim?

The quickest and easiest way is to claim online.

The online form is compatible with most Smartphones and Tablets. If you are liable for Council Tax, you can make a joint claim for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support on the same form.

If you don't have a computer, you can use one in any public library, the Customer Access Point in Wakefield One or some of the WDH (WDH) Service Access Points (if you are a WDH tenant). If you are a tenant of Riverside Housing Group or Together Housing (Chevin) you can also ask them for help.

When will my claim start from?

Usually, your Housing Benefit will start on the Monday after the date we receive your claim. If we receive your claim on a Monday, then it will start from the following Monday unless you also moved into your address the same week.

Can my claim be backdated?

Working age customers can request a backdate if they had a good reason for not claiming earlier. However, we can only go back 4 weeks from the date the backdate request is received. It is important to make the backdate request as soon as possible and provide supporting information and evidence that shows there was a good reason for the delay in claiming.

Pension age customers are automatically eligible for a backdate of up to 3 months before claiming if:

  • they had a rental liability throughout this time; and
  • they or their partner were of pensioner age, and;
  • they qualified for Council Tax Support during this time

Do I need to make a new claim if I have moved?

This depends on whether you are of pension age or working age;

Pension age

If you have recently moved to Wakefield and need help with your rent, you should make a claim for Housing Benefit in the same week as your move. If you have moved within the area and were already receiving Housing Benefit, you don't need to make a new claim, but you must report this change of address. You can do this using our online form here.

Working age

If you have recently moved into the Wakefield area you may need to claim Universal Credit instead of Housing Benefit. Note, if you are liable for Council Tax and need help to meet your payments you must make a claim for Council Tax Support here.

If you have moved within the area and were receiving Housing Benefit at your previous address, you do not need to make a new claim. Instead you must report this change in your circumstances on our online form.

When will I get paid?

Housing Benefit is normally paid 4 weekly, in arrears.

To find your next payment date, please use our payment calendar.

How will I get paid?

If you rent from a housing association, you can choose whether to receive your Housing Benefit directly or have it sent to your landlord. However, if you have 8 or more weeks of arrears, payments will be sent to your landlord until the arrears are reduced.

If you rent from a private landlord, we usually pay your housing benefit directly to your bank account. However, there are situations where we may pay the landlord to ensure your tenancy is not put at risk due to non-payment of rent.

I'm receiving Housing Benefit, but my circumstances have changed – what should I do?

You must report any changes in your circumstance online. If you have documents to support these changes you can also upload these at the same time.

Examples of changes you should report include:

  • someone moving in or out of your household
  • changes to incomes received by members of your household
  • starting/Stopping work
  • your child finishing school/college and/or end of your child benefit
  • changes to the amount of capital held by you or your partner
  • rent increases or decreases
  • moving address
  • change to the bank account where your Housing Benefit is paid

I think my Housing Benefit is wrong – what can I do?

We aim to make the right decision when working out your entitlement. However, if you think a decision we have made is wrong, you can:

  • ask us to explain it
  • ask us to look at it again
  • appeal against it

Housing benefits reviews appeals

Housing benefits reviews appeals (accessible version)


My Housing Benefit isn't enough – can I get any extra help?

If your Housing Benefit doesn't cover your full rent and you can't afford the difference, you might qualify for a short-term payment from Discretionary Housing Payment.

If you need help with getting essential household items, such as a fridge, cooker or beds, or struggle with the costs of gas and electricity on a pre-paid meter, you may be eligible for support from the Local Welfare Provision.

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