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You are here:home > Living > Benefit and Reduction > Housing Benefit > Who can apply?

Who can apply?

If you pay rent for a Housing Association, Council or privately rented property you can apply for Housing Benefit.

You can apply for Council Tax Reduction if you are responsible for paying Council Tax for your home (for further details regarding Council Tax Reduction please see: The Council Tax Reduction Scheme. If you rent your home and you pay council tax, you can apply for both.

People who are working full time, part time, are self-employed or retired can all claim Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction, as well as people who are unemployed or cannot work because of illness or because they are caring for someone.

If you are a full time student or a person that has come from abroad there may be further criteria you need to meet to claim benefit. For more information please refer to the Student- Frequently Asked Questions at the bottom of this page.

You might be on a low income if you (and your partner) receive:
• A low wage for working full or part time or
• State benefits e.g. Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Pension Credit, Employment and Support Allowance, Incapacity Benefit, Statutory Sick Pay, Maternity Pay or Retirement Pension.

Unless you are entitled to Guarantee Pension Credit, savings and investments over £16,000, including your partner’s, will exclude you from receiving Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction.

• For those of working age all savings and investments between £6,000 and £16,000 are taken into account in the calculation of entitlement.
• For those of pensionable age all savings and investments between £10,000 and £16,000 are taken into account in the calculation of entitlement.

To apply or find out more, please contact Benefit Services on: 023 8083 3009.

Information for people of pensionable age - FAQ

1. How do I apply for Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction?

For the purposes of Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction, a pensioner is anyone who has reached pensionable age.

If you wish to apply you must complete an application form. This is available from Gateway in the Civic Centre or from your local housing office. Alternatively a form can be requested from the call centre or be printed from this website.

If you apply for Pension Credit a claim form is available from the Pension Service- you will not be able to apply for Council Tax Reduction through the Pension Service.

If you would prefer to have a home visit by a Welfare Visiting Officer, this can be arranged for you by contacting Benefit Services on 023 8083 3009.

Your claim for Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Reduction will be considered from 3 months prior to the date it was received as long as you were of pensionable age at the beginning of this 3 month period and that proof of the income and savings you had during this 3 month period is provided.

2. What proofs are required?

You will need to provide proof of the following:

•State Retirement pension
•Occupational pension
•Rent proof if applicable (tenancy agreement or rent book or letter from landlord)
•Incapacity Benefit
•Working Tax Credit
•Rent received from lodgers/ boarders
•Earnings

If you are in receipt of Pension Credit, either Savings Credit or Guarantee Credit, you should provide the above details directly to the Pension Service.

3. What is Pension Credit?

Pension Credit is a payment made by the Pension Service if you have reached pensionable age and are on a low income. There are 2 types:

•Guarantee Credit if you have reached pensionable age
•Savings Credit if you are over 65 (you may still qualify for Guarantee Credit)

Pension Credit can be claimed by telephoning 0800 99 1234. More information on Pension Credit is available from the Pension Service by telephoning 0845 6060265.

Visiting the Pension Service website at www.thepensionservice.gov.uk

4. How are my savings taken into account?

These are classed as savings:

•Bank accounts
•Building Society accounts
•Post Office accounts
•PEP, TESSA and ISA
•Stocks, shares and unit trusts
•National Savings Certificates
•Property or land, but not the home you live in
•Cash

If you have capital of less than £10,000 we may not need to see proof of this.

You will not qualify for Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Reduction if your savings are more than £16,000 unless you receive of Guarantee Credit.

5. What about other people who live with me?

We need details of the composition and income of your household:

•Names and dates of birth of everyone who lives with you and your partner if you have one
•Proof of their income and savings

Any Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Reduction entitlement will be reduced by a non-dependant charge for each non-dependant that lives with you. The amount of the non-dependant charge depends on the amount of income that your non-dependant receives. However, no non-dependant charge will apply if you or your partner are:

•In receipt of Attendance Allowance or

•In receipt of the care rate of Disability Living Allowance or

•Registered blind


Students - FAQ

1. Which students can apply for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction?

For Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction purposes a student is someone who studies at a college of further education or a university. A full time student is someone who studies at a college or university for 16 hours a week. Most full time students are unable to claim Housing Benefit.

You may be able to claim if you:
•Are a part time student
•Are responsible for a child or young person
•Are a single foster parent
•Are aged 60 or more
•Receive Income Support ,Income Based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance (Income Related), (Contribution Related) or credits only
•Are entitled to a Disability Premium or Severe Disability Premium
•Have been unable to work for 28 weeks
•Are entitled to a Disabled Students’ Allowance because of deafness
•Are aged under 21 and not in higher education (course must have commenced before age 19)
•Have a partner, who is not a student (the partner must make the claim for Housing Benefit)
•Have to interrupt your course because of illness or caring responsibilities (approved by the college or university)

2. Can I apply for Council Tax Reduction?

If you a full time student studying over 21 hours per week you can apply for an exemption on your Council Tax account. To apply for an exemption you will need to supply proof of your student status to Council Tax. Please see: Exemptions.

If you are not full time and meet the other qualifying criteria stated above, then you can apply for Council Tax Reduction.

3. I have come here to study from outside the UK, can I apply?

The rules above apply to students who are from Europe. However, if you come from outside of Europe, your eligibility to claim Housing Benefit depends on the conditions under which you entered the UK and your immigration status.

4. I live in university accommodation, can I apply?

If you are eligible to claim Housing Benefit, you can claim for any accommodation that you rent from your university or college.

5. Can I apply for Housing Benefit on two homes?

You may be able to claim for Housing Benefit on 2 homes if you are a student or trainee or part of a couple and have to live in separate rented accommodation because of your course of work.

6. How is Housing Benefit calculated for students?

All income you have excluding any disregarded income will be taken into account for your calculation. For further information on Housing Benefit calculations please see: How is benefit calculated?


Any student grant income you receive may be taken into account. Any student loan that is available to you will be taken into account even if you do not apply for it. If you are a student nurse your bursary income is taken into account.

7. What proofs are required?

We will need to see:

•Your student grant
•Your student loan
•The type of course you are studying
•Your term dates
•The year you are in of your course

Self- employed FAQs

1. Can I get help with rent and council tax if I am self- employed?

All self- employed earners can claim Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction/Second Adult Rebate.
When calculating what income should be used, we have to work out the net profit from the documents provided.

The Net Profit is calculated as follows:

Gross Income less any allowable business expenses = Gross Profit
Gross Profit less tax, national insurance and half of pension contributions = Net Profit

2. What are Allowable Business Expenses?

Only expenses, which the local authority considers to be reasonable and are wholly for the running of the business can be deducted from the gross income figure. Allowable expenses include:

• Rent and rates on business premises
• Stocks and supplies
• Staff costs
• Protective clothing
• Stationary
• Advertising
• Accountancy fees

This is not an exhaustive list and any other expenses will be considered in relation to the nature of your self-employed business.

3. I have a Business Partnership - can I still make an application?

If you are self-employed in a partnership, the gross profit has to be split between the business partners. To confirm how the business is divided, the Deed of Partnership should be provided.

Couples who are Business Partners:
The above guidelines will also be used if the business partners are a couple. This will ensure that the deductions for notional tax and national insurance are correctly calculated.

4. I am a child minder. Can I apply?

When calculating what income should be used for self-employed child minders, we do not deduct any business expenses.

The net profit is obtained by deducting tax, national insurance contributions and half of any pension contributions from one third of the gross profit.

5. What information will I have to provide?

You may need to complete a self employed questionnaire and return it with your completed application form.

You will also need to provide proof of your previous 12 months’ trading, profit and loss accounts. This should be available from your accountant. Day books or receipts are accepted when the business is new.

If you have just started your business we will need a 13 week estimate of your income, this can be supplied on our Self Employed Questionnaire.

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