Benefits - who can apply

Housing Benefit

You can apply for Housing Benefit using the Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support calculator or online form

Who can apply for Housing Benefit?

Anyone who lives in a property and has to pay rent for his or her home can apply for Housing Benefit. You can apply for Housing Benefit if you pay rent and you:

  • are a Council or Housing Association tenant;
  • rent a room(s), a flat or house privately;
  • are in a hostel or bed and breakfast accommodation;
  • rent a mobile home or boat (site charges and mooring fees are also included).

If you live with someone and are married or known as partners you need to make a joint application. The amount of benefit you receive depends on the level of rent you pay and the amount of income you have. Savings and assets may also affect the rate of benefit paid.

Information on benefits cap and room restrictions for those in social housing

Who cannot apply for Housing Benefit?

You cannot apply for Housing Benefit if:

  • your landlord is a close relative such as mother, father, brother, sister, step or in-law relations and they live in the same property as you
  • your landlord is the father or mother of your or your partners child
  • your tenancy is not considered to be commercial
  • you have a beneficial interest in the property or have in excess of £16,000 of capital (the capital rule may not apply to some pensioners)
  • you owned the property you live in within the past five years and the rent liability has not been created by a mortgage rescue scheme or something similar
  • you own your home or have a mortgage. However you may be able to claim Council Tax benefit. More advice is available for mortgage payments and links to mortgage help schemes on
  • you may not be able to apply if you or your partner are full time students.

This list is not complete and there maybe other reasons why you may not be able to apply.

What will my Housing Benefit pay for?

Housing Benefit will only pay for the eligible rent. It cannot pay for:

  • mortgage payments (The Department for Work and Pensions may be able to help you if you are on Income Support or Jobseekers Allowance (income based)), please contact the local office on 0345 608 8575, for further information.
  • gas, electric, heating or lighting charges
  • meals
  • water rates
  • services provided by your landlord i.e. laundry and household cleaning
  • personal care provided by your landlord or care provided by other bodies which is dealt with by Supporting People
  • garage rental, unless the garage cannot be rented separately from the property at the start of the tenancy
  • deposits
  • rent in advance

Council Tax Support

There are two different types of Council Tax Support available under the Council Tax Support Scheme (pdf) depending on your circumstances:

You can apply for Main Council Tax Support or Second Adult Rebate) using the Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support calculator or online form

If you are entitled to main Council Tax Support or second adult rebate, it will be automatically credited to your Council Tax account and you will be issued with a revised Council Tax bill, which will include a schedule of payments, if any monies are due. Only one of type of Council Tax support can be paid. If an applicant is entitled to both main Council Tax Support and second adult rebate, the Council will pay the higher amount.

If you receive Council Tax Support you must notify us immediately of any changes in your circumstances as failure to report a change is an offence and may lead to prosecution under the Council Tax Reductions Schemes (Detection of Fraud and Enforcement) (England) Regulations 2013, Regulation 8.

Working age applicants will not be entitled to Council Tax Support if you have in excess of £6,000 of capital. Pension age applicants will not be entitled to Council Tax Support if you have in excess of £16,000 of capital, capital worth less than £10,000 is ignored. Council Tax Support cannot be paid for a second home.

More information on Council Tax

Who can apply for Council Tax Support?

Only the person who is liable to pay Council Tax can apply for support. You should make sure that your Council Tax bill is correct first as there are several discounts and exemptions that may apply and you may be entitled to these regardless of income or savings.

Main Council Tax Support

You may be entitled to Council Tax Support if you receive Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance, Pension Credits, other state benefits or have little in savings and a low income. Your income will be compared to an amount the Government says you and your family need to live on; this is called the applicable amount. Main Council Tax Support can be awarded up to a maximum of 100% of your Council Tax liability if you are of pension age or 76% liability if you are of working age. There may be a deduction from your support if you have non-dependant adults living with you.

Second adult rebate for pension age applicants

You may be able to receive up to 25% reduction on your Council Tax bill if you are of pension age and are solely responsible for paying the Council Tax and you live with other people who are on a low income. Your own income is not taken into account when calculating second adult rebate, this means it does not matter how much income you have. The rebate is calculated by adding together the gross income (link to gross income figures on figures page) of all the other adults.

To be able to apply the other person/people must not be:

  1. your partner (married or unmarried).
  2. a joint tenant or owner of the property.
  3. paying rent.
  4. under 18

What options and help are available to pay my Council Tax bill?

  • If you are able to you could start work or increase your working hours.
  • Other family members could contribute more. Any non-dependants may be able to cover the Council Tax.
  • If you need extra help with Council Tax and you are getting Council Tax Support you may be able to get Exceptional Hardship Payments (those on maximum Council Tax Support will not qualify)
  • Contact an Advisor at Contact Harlow for advice and assistance