Housing benefit

What is housing benefit?

Housing benefit is a national welfare benefit scheme designed to help people on low income to pay the rent on their home. It cannot help with mortgage payments or rent payable on a business premises but you may be eligible if you are on other benefits, work part-time or work full-time on a low income.

Rent allowance refers to benefit paid to a private tenant including those who rent from a Housing Association.

Payments are normally paid directly to you but in certain circumstances payments may be made to your landlord.

Housing benefit doesn't help with council tax bills but if you are on a low income, you may be able to get Council Tax reduction to help you pay your Council Tax.

Local housing allowance (LHA) is a way of working out housing benefit for some tenants on a low income living in private rented accommodation. To see if this affects you go to our local housing allowance page.

Universal Credit 

Universal Credit is part of the Government's welfare reform programme. It is a new benefit that is replacing six existing in-and-out of work benefits for working-age applicants with a single monthly payment.

In south Northamptonshire, Universal Credit rolled out from 23rd November 2015 for new claims from single people who are fit for work and have no children, who would otherwise have been eligible for jobseeker's allowance.

However if you live in one of the following villages, everyone will have to claim Universal Credit instead of Housing Benefit, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Child Tax Credit or Working Tax Credit:

Alderton, Blisworth, Bugbrooke, Castle Ashby, Cogenhoe, Gayton, Grafton Regis, Greens Norton, Hackleton, Harpole, Hartwell, Milton Malsor, Moreton Pinkney, Nether Heyford, Piddington, Quinton, Roade, Rothersthorpe, Stoke Bruerne, Yardley Gobion, Yardley Hastings

If these customers have housing costs, they will not claim housing benefit, as housing costs will be included in their Universal Credit assessment.

To find out if you are able to claim see GOV.UK Universal Credit.

Important information about changes to housing benefit and Council Tax reduction from April 2016 onwards

The Government has announced a number of changes to the benefits system which may affect you.


From 1st April 2016, for housing benefit claimants who have not reached the age where they can claim state pension credit, the period for which their housing benefit can be backdated is to be cut from 6 months to 1 month. The claimant will still have to show continuous good cause for the period in question.

The backdating period for the Council's Council Tax reduction scheme will also reflect this change and will be one month for those of working age.

Freeze on working age benefits

From April 2016 working age benefits including tax credits and local housing allowance will be frozen in cash terms for 4 years - excluding maternity allowance/pay, paternity pay and statutory sick pay. Disability benefits will be uprated using the consumer price index (CPI), which means no increase this year.

For further information see welfare benefit changes section.

Family premium

The family premium will not be included in the housing benefit applicable amount for new claimants beginning on or after 1 May 2016 or for any existing claimants who have a child or become responsible for a dependent for the first time after 30 April 2016. It will also mean that if a current claimant stops having the family premium included in their claim because they no longer have responsibility for a dependent, then they will not be able to regain access to the family premium if they become responsible for a dependent again.

This change will also be reflected in our Council Tax reduction scheme.

For further information see welfare benefit changes section.

Benefit cap amounts

On the 7th November 2016 the amount of the Government's benefit cap will be lowered from £26,000.00 per annum to £23,000.00 in London and £20,000.00 outside London.

Those affected by the new amounts will be written to by the Department for Work and Pensions before the cap is in place and advised as to how they can move off the benefit cap.

For further information see our benefit cap page.

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