Skip to main content

What is Housing Benefit?

Housing Benefit is a means tested benefit to help you pay your rent and is administered by us on behalf of the Department for Work & Pensions.

Low income means people on Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance, low earnings, state benefits, retirement pensions etc.

Also in this section

Who can claim Housing Benefit?

You can claim Housing Benefit if you have a liability to pay rent. For an estimate of how much benefit you could be entitled to, complete the online benefits calculator

You will not be eligible if you have capital / savings / investments of more than £16,000, unless you are entitled to the guaranteed element of Pension Credit.

Claims are assessed taking into account:

  • Your income
  • Your savings
  • The size of your family
  • The income of anyone else who lives with you, such as grown up children or parents.

The rules around who is eligible for Housing Benefit can be complex.

How do I apply?

Apply online

What supporting evidence is required?

If you are employed we need to see copies of your recent wage slips:

  • Paid weekly - five wage slips
  • Paid monthly - two wage slips
  • Paid fortnightly - three wage slips

Please note that we may need to make further checks if you only have hand-written wage slips. If you do not have wage slips, or they are hand-written, then an official letter from your employer may be acceptable.

The letter should include the following information:

  • The full name and address of your employer
  • The number of hours worked and the period covered
  • Gross income for the period and year to date
  • Income Tax deducted
  • National Insurance contributions deducted
  • Details of occupational pension or personal pension payments
  • Method of payment (for example, cheque, cash, BACS etc).

Alternatively we can send a 'Certificate of Earned Income' directly to your employer.  This form requests all the relevant information we need about your earnings.                    

To establish your savings / capital, we will need to see your last two months' bank statements or the up to date pass books for each account that you hold, as well as details of any other investments you may have. These could be, for example, stocks and shares, PEPs, ISAs, Premium Bonds, National Savings Certificates, land or property etc.

If you rent your home and wish to claim Housing Benefit, you will need to provide up to date proof of your rent. This is usually your tenancy agreement and rent book or a signed and dated letter from your landlord confirming the following:

  • The full name and address of your landlord and managing agent
  • Your tenancy start date and the term of the tenancy
  • The amount of rent payable
  • The frequency at which the rent is to be paid
  • Details of any services included in the rent (eg meals, heating, lighting, hot water etc)
  • Details of any payments that have already been made (amounts and dates of the payments)

The application form says what supporting evidence is required to allow us to process a claim. These documents must be original; photocopies will not be accepted.

If you cannot provide evidence straightaway you should send in the form and submit the evidence later.

Receipts will be given for claims accepted at your local office, if requested.

Documents we will accept as proof of identity are:

  • UK Passport
  • Home Office Letter (SLA1)
  • Birth Certificate
  • Bank/Building Society statements dated in the last four weeks
  • Benefit Payment Book
  • Certicifate of Employment in HM Forces or the Merchant Navy
  • Credit Cards
  • Divorce/Annulment Papers
  • Driving Licence
  • EC/EEA identity card
  • Life Assurance / Insurance policies
  • Marriage Certificate
  • Medical Card
  • National Insurance Number
  • UK Residence Permit
  • Utility bills paid in the last quarter
  • Wage Slips from your current employer
  • National Identity Card
  • Trade Union membership card
  • Cheque Book
  • Cheque Guarantee Card

Some of the documents the council will accept as proof of your National Insurance number are:

  • P45
  • P60
  • Wage/Salary statements
  • Tax letter
  • Letters from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP)
  • RD3 NINO card
  • Various benefit payment books including Retirement Pension, Family Credit and Income Support
  • Bank statement of self employed person paying 'Class 2' contributions of Direct Debit.

When you should claim

Entitlement to Housing Benefit normally starts from the Monday following the receipt of an application form. If you think you may be entitled, it is important that you claim straight away as the Housing Benefit can only be backdated if you can show that you had 'good cause' for not claiming earlier.

Benefit can only be paid if you are actually occupying the property.

If you haven't moved in yet

New tenants should make sure their claim is submitted the day they move in or their benefit will only start from the Monday after they claim. Existing tenants should claim as soon as possible as their entitlement will start from the Monday after they claim.

When do my benefit payments stop?

We shall carry on paying benefits until there is a change in your circumstances which means you are no longer eligible for it - such as you move into residential care or out of the area.

It is your responsibility to tell us about a change of circumstance. Failure to do so could result in overpayments which will be reclaimed by us, and/or prosecution

Changes of circumstance

It is important that all changes of circumstance are reported to us within one calendar month of the change occurring. If the change is to your advantage, then any delays in notifying us may mean you don't get the benefits you are entitled to.  

If the change is likely to be detrimental to your benefits (for example, your wages have increased) an overpayment may occur if we are not notified immediately.

Failure to report any changes that may result in a decrease in the amount of benefit / reduction awarded may lead to prosecution.

You need to report a change of circumstances for you and anyone else in your house.

Your benefit entitlement might be stopped or reduced if you do not report a change of circumstances straight away.

You can report a change of circumstance online.

Changes can include:

  • Starting or stopping work, education, training or an apprenticeship
  • Changes to the benefits you or anyone else in your house gets
  • Changes to your pension, savings, investments or property
  • Moving house
  • Your rent going up or down
  • If you are away from home
  • If you go abroad for more than four weeks
  • Going into hospital, a care home or sheltered accommodation
  • People moving into or out of your house (for example your partner, a child or lodger)
  • Having a baby
  • Your partner or someone you live with dying
  • Your child turning 18

Your claim may be affected if you have a period of temporary absence which exceeds four weeks

The Money Advice Service also has advice on where to get help and advice about benefits.

Benefit is paid indefinitely until a person has a change in their circumstances which means their claim has to be cancelled, for example, when they move into residential care or out of the area.

If you would like to talk to us about Housing Benefits, you can contact us via  email or telephone our Customer Services team on 0300 373 3730.

Council Strategy design

Cumberland Council

On 1 April 2023 local government in Cumbria changed, with Cumberland Council providing all your council services.  

Don't worry though, your bins will be emptied as normal, and you'll still be able to speak to the same team about any enquiries to do with things like council tax, benefits, planning or any other service.

Find out more about the changes.

Keep up to date by finding and following the new council on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. 

Sign-up to receive updates straight to your email inbox.

Accessibility and language tool

Use the ReciteMe toolbar for accessibility and language options