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Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to get help towards your rent / housing costs through either Housing Benefit or Universal Credit.
The amount you’re entitled to depends on:
- where you live;
- what savings you have;
- how many people live with you; and
- your income.
Housing Benefit can help you pay your rent if you’re unemployed, on a low income or claiming benefits. It is paid by your local council.
It is being replaced by Universal Credit – if you are receiving housing benefit and have a change of circumstances you may have to make a claim for Universal Credit.
You can only make a new claim for Housing Benefit from your local council if either of the following apply:
- you have reached State Pension age
- you’re in supported, sheltered or temporary housing.
For further information on Housing Benefit please view the Gov.UK website.
Universal Credit is a single benefit for working-age people. It replaces means-tested benefits, such as:
- Income support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Tax credits
- Housing Benefit
Universal Credit is paid monthly in arrears to only one member of the household unless certain exceptions apply. You are expected to manage a budget and pay your rent / housing costs direct to your landlord. It is expected that a claim will be in payment after 6 weeks of making the claim.
Universal Credit mainly affects working age people, however for mixed age couples; where one partner is of working age and the other has reached Pension Credit qualifying age, they will have to claim Universal Credit rather than Pension Credit.
For further information on Universal Credit please view Gov.UK's Universal Credit and You factsheet publications.
How do I make a claim?
Claims for Universal Credit are online in one session through the made to the Department of Work and Pensions. Therefore, it is important to have all the relevant information to hand before you start the application process as claims cannot be saved for a later date.
Alternative Payment Arrangements (APAs)
In some circumstances you can ask for an Alternative Payment Arrangement (APA) APAs are for those Universal Credit claimants who are finding it difficult to manage their single monthly payment and there is a risk of financial harm to the claimant and/or their family.
The move to a single monthly household payment is a major change to the way most benefits are currently paid.
The following types APAs are available to help those who do need additional support:
- paying your housing costs of Universal Credit direct to the landlord (this is known as a Managed Payment (MP).
- pay more frequent than monthly payments.
- split payment of an award between partners.
When can an APA be considered?
An APA may be considered at any point during your Universal Credit claim. They may be identified when you are making your claim by your work coach, or case manager or at any time if you are struggling with your single monthly payment. You should discuss this with your work coach, case manager in the first instance.
They can also be triggered by Sanctuary as your landlord if certain conditions exist such as serious rent arrears.
Universal Credit staff will consider an APA on a case-by-case basis. You can have one or more APAs based on individual circumstances.
Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP)
Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) provide financial support to help with rent or housing costs and are provided by your local council.
You can apply for a DHP if you currently claim either:
- Housing Benefit
- the housing element of Universal Credit and need more financial support with housing costs
What a DHP can cover
DHP funding is available in England and Wales can help people with housing costs, including those affected by:
- the benefit cap
- removal of the spare room subsidy in the social rented sector
- Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates
You may get a DHP to cover housing costs for
- a rent shortfall
- rent deposits
- rent in advance if you need to move home
How to apply
Apply through your local council. Each council decides how their application process will work.
Your council will look at your circumstances to see whether you are eligible for a DHP. They will decide:
- whether to give you a DHP
- how much you will be paid
- how long you will receive the payment
Find out how to apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment in Scotland.
Other organisations that can help
Here is a list of organisations that can help and advise you on money, benefits and debts issues.
|Organisation||Type of Help and Support||Website|
|Gov.UK||The best place to find government services and latest information on coronavirus situation and on benefits available.||Gov.UK website|
|Citizens Advice Bureau||Advice service for a wide range of matters – legal, financial including debts and benefits. Tel: 0344 411 1444||Citizens Advice Bureau website|
|Money Advice Service||Money, Benefits and debt advice Online Tools and Calculators. Tel: 0800 138 7777||Money Advice Service website|
|Turn to Us||This provides detailed guidance on different benefits and has handy online benefits calculators. Tel: 0808 802 2000||To find out which benefits you may be entitled to, please use the Benefits Checker on the Turn2us website. The Benefits Checker should only take ten minutes to complete|
|National Debtline||Free debt advice and support for people with money worries and debt difficulties in England, Wales & Scotland. Tel: 0808 808 4000||National Debtline website|