How is my benefit calculated?

Page updated on: 10/10/2017

We look at:

  • How much money you have coming in and your personal circumstances.
  • The amount of savings you have (more than £16,000 will normally disqualify you unless you are receiving Pension Credit - Guarantee Credit).
  • The circumstances of your household members (age, sex, disabilities) and their relationship to you.
  • If you claim Housing Benefit, and you live in a council or housing association property, your benefit may be reduced if you have a spare bedroom.
  • If you live in privately rented accommodation, your Housing Benefit will be based on the current Local Housing Allowance rates for the size of property your household needs.

Use our benefit calculator to obtain an estimate of how much benefit you might get. The amount of Housing Benefit you are entitled to may be reduced as a result of the benefit cap.

To make sure your Housing Benefit starts from the earliest date possible, you should contact us as soon as you need benefit to tell us that you want to make a claim.

Housing Benefit normally starts from the Monday after we receive your claim or intention to claim. However, sometimes we can pay from an earlier date. There are separate rules for pensioners and for working age claimants.

The age at which someone becomes a pensioner are changing so if you are not sure whether you would be considered working or pension age, you can calculate your pension age on the GOV.UK website.

If you are of pension age, your claim is automatically 'backdated' 3 months, provided you were of pension age throughout the 3 months, or back to the date you reached pension age if this was within 3 months. We just need the information necessary to assess your entitlement and you do not have to show any reasons for not claiming earlier.

If you are of working age, you must have a 'good reason' (or good cause) for not claiming sooner. 

There is no particular definition, but some examples are:

  • The death of a close relative;
  • Being in hospital or seriously ill;
  • Being wrongly advised by a person who should have known better, such as a benefit officer, the Citizens Advice Bureau, a social worker or Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) staff;
  • Language difficulties;
  • Being unable to manage your affairs and not having anyone to help you at the time.

As we will usually need some evidence, please provide as much information as you can to help us make our decision. The good reason must apply over the full period for which you want your award backdated.

If you are of working age, the maximum period is 1 month from the time we receive your written request.

You can claim backdated benefit at the same time as your Housing Benefit claim by completing the relevant section on the form, or by contacting us at the address below.

When there are other adults, not including your partner, living in your home it is assumed they will help pay for household bills like the Rent or Council Tax.  The amount of Rent / Council Tax you can claim benefit on will then be reduced according to their ability to pay.  This is called a non-dependant deduction.

The amount of rent you can claim benefit on will be reduced by the following amounts for each non-dependant in the household.

Category Benefit reduced by

Aged 18 or over in paid work of 16 hours per week or more
Gross income £469.00 and above

Aged 18 or over in paid work of 16 hours per week or more
Gross income £377.00 to £468.99
Aged 18 or over in paid work of 16 hours per week or more
Gross income £283.00 to £376.99
Aged 18 or over in paid work of 16 hours per week or more
Gross income £217.00 to £282.99
Aged 18 or over in paid work of 16 hours per week or more
Gross income £149.00 to £216.99
Aged 18 or over in paid work of 16 hours per week or more
Gross income less than £149.00
In receipt of Employment and Support Allowance (Main Phase) £15.95
Aged 25 or over and receiving Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance (IB) £15.95
Receiving Pension Credit No reduction
Aged 18 years+ who are not in paid work of 16 hours per week or more £15.95
Aged under 25 receiving Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance (IB) or Employment and Support Allowance (Assessment Phase) No reduction

No reduction in the benefit will be made for the following people:

  • People under 18.
  • People in full time education. A reduction will apply for Housing Benefit if the person takes up work during the holiday periods.
  • People receiving Work Based Training Allowance.
  • People on Income Support or Income Based Job Seekers Allowance, Pension Credit or Universal Credit on the basis that the person has no income.** For Housing Benefit only - a reduction will be applied from the person's 25th birthday.
  • People in prison.
  • People in hospital for more than 52 weeks. Separate periods in hospital are added together and are counted as a single period provided they are separated by intervals of 28 days or less.
  • A person who not residing with you because he is a member of the armed forces away on operations.