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Chapter 12: Housing benefit
This chapter covers:
1. What is housing benefit (here)
2. Who is eligible (here)
3. Basic rules (here)
4. Amount of benefit (here)
5. Claiming housing benefit (here)
6. Challenging a decision (here)
7. Other benefits and tax credits (here)
Basic facts
– Housing benefit (HB) helps with your rent. In Northern Ireland, it also helps with your rates.
– It is administered by local authorities.
– Full-time students are eligible if they are on a non-advanced course and are under 21 (or are 21 and turned 21 on their course).
– Other full-time students are eligible if they get income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance or income-related employment and support allowance, or if they are a lone parent, disabled or over pension age.
– Couples with a child are eligible throughout the year, whether one or both are students.
– There are limits to the rent covered by HB.
– HB is means tested and the amount you get depends on your grant, loan and other income.
1. What is housing benefit
Housing benefit (HB) helps with your rent. In Northern Ireland, it also helps with your rates. Most full-time students are not eligible, but part-time students are. You can get help with rent in private accommodation, but not if you live with your parents. There are limits to the level of rent that HB covers. HB is means tested, so your grant, loan and other income affect the amount you get.
Note: people under pension age cannot usually make a new claim for HB, as it is being replaced by universal credit (UC). However an exception applies if:
you have a severe disability premium in your income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income-related employment support allowance or HB (or you got one in the past month and you continue to satisfy the rules for it). This exception ended on 26 January 2021; or
you live in certain types of specified or temporary accommodation, such as homeless accommodation (you may still need to claim UC as well for your living costs). See CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook for details.
2. Who is eligible
To qualify for housing benefit (HB), you must be a student who is eligible to get HB (see below), your accommodation must be eligible for HB (see here) and you must satisfy the basic HB rules (see here). As new claims cannot usually be made (see above for exceptions), most students getting HB will be those who were already on HB before starting the course, and who are eligible for HB as a student. If you cannot claim HB, you may be able to get help with your rent through universal credit (see Chapter 18).
Full-time students
If you are a full-time student ‘attending or undertaking a full-time course of study’, you cannot normally get HB.1Regs 53(1), definition of ‘full-time student’, and 56(1) HB Regs However, there are exceptions for some students.
You start being a student from the first day you attend or undertake the course. You stop being a student after the last day of the final academic term in which you are enrolled, or from the day you finally abandon your course or are dismissed from it.2Reg 53(1), definition of ‘last day of the course’, and (2)(b) HB Regs
 
1     Regs 53(1), definition of ‘full-time student’, and 56(1) HB Regs »
2     Reg 53(1), definition of ‘last day of the course’, and (2)(b) HB Regs »
Who counts as a full-time student
In most cases you are treated as a full-time student if your college or university says your course is full time.
If you are at a further education college, not on a higher education course, and your course is government funded, a learning agreement from the college shows how many hours are involved in the course and a 16-hour rule determines whether it is full or part time.1Reg 53(1), definition of ‘full-time course of study’, HB Regs The rules on whether or not you count as a full-time student are the same as for income support (IS), except that there is no 12-hour rule if you are claiming HB and are aged under 20 and in relevant education. In this case, the 16-hour rule applies (see here).
Guidance states that postgraduates stop being treated as full-time students for HB purposes when their course ends. If you go on to do further research or write up a thesis, whether or not you are regarded as full time depends on how much work you are doing at the time, not on whether the course is full time.2para 2.354 C2 GM
 
1     Reg 53(1), definition of ‘full-time course of study’, HB Regs »
2     para 2.354 C2 GM »
Who can get housing benefit
You are eligible for HB as a full-time student if you are in one of the following groups.1Reg 56(2) HB Regs
You are under 21 on a full-time course of non-advanced education (see here) (benefit can continue if you turn 21 on your course, but stops once you turn 22), or you are a child or qualifying young person for child benefit purposes (see Chapter 8), even if no one gets child benefit for you.2Reg 56(2)(h) HB Regs Note: if you are a care leaver and are aged 16 or 17, you cannot get HB, even if you come into one of the groups below, because the local authority should be supporting you.
You are on IS, income-based jobseeker’s allowance (JSA), income-related employment and support allowance (ESA) or UC and are not eligible for help with housing costs within UC (ie, because you are in specified or temporary accommodation).3Reg 56(2)(aa) HB Regs
You are a lone parent of a child under 16, or under 20 if s/he is still a qualifying young person (see here). Lone parents can only usually get IS until their youngest child’s fifth birthday (see here). If your IS stops, make sure you tell the local authority that pays your HB.
You or your partner have reached pension age. Pension age reached 66 in October 2020. For more details, see CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook.
You qualify for a disability premium or severe disability premium with your HB – eg, you get disability living allowance, personal independence payment or long-term incapacity benefit (IB), or are certified as severely sight impaired or blind. See herehere for details. Note: you cannot qualify for a disability premium if you have limited capability for work.4Sch 3 paras 12 and 13(9) HB Regs
You have been incapable of work for the last 28 weeks. Since 27 October 2008, new claimants are assessed under the limited capability for work test (see below). However, the previous incapacity for work test may still apply to you if you are already getting IB, or IS on the basis of disability.
You have had limited capability for work for the last 28 weeks and you continue to have limited capability for work. You should claim ESA to have your limited capability for work acknowledged (although you do not have to get any ESA to qualify). You can add together weeks of limited capability for work on either side of a gap of up to 12 weeks.
You get a disabled students’ allowance because of deafness. You are eligible for HB from the date you apply for the allowance.5Reg 56(2)(i) HB Regs However, if you are still waiting to hear about the allowance, the local authority may postpone making a decision on your HB claim, but should then fully backdate your benefit.6para 2.30 C2 GM
You are in a couple, your partner is also a full-time student and you have a dependent child under 16, or under 20 if s/he is a qualifying young person (see here). If you are claiming IS or income-based JSA, remember that if these benefits stop, you must tell the local authority so it can reassess your HB. If your partner is not a student, s/he can get HB for both of you, whether or not you have a child.
You are single and caring for a child boarded out with you by the social services department.
 
1     Reg 56(2) HB Regs »
2     Reg 56(2)(h) HB Regs »
3     Reg 56(2)(aa) HB Regs »
4     Sch 3 paras 12 and 13(9) HB Regs »
5     Reg 56(2)(i) HB Regs  »
6     para 2.30 C2 GM »
Studying part time
You can get HB throughout your studies. You must meet all the basic rules below, including being liable for rent and being in eligible accommodation. You are a part-time student if you do not count as a full-time student under the definition on here. The rules on who counts as full time are the same as those for IS, with one exception. If you are under 20 and in ‘relevant education’, there is no 12-hour rule. The 16-hour rule applies to you if you are on a non-advanced course, whatever your age.
3. Basic rules
As well as being a student who is eligible to claim housing benefit (HB – see here), you must also meet all the following conditions to qualify.
You are liable to pay rent (see here).
You pay rent for the home in which you normally live (see here).
Your accommodation is eligible for HB (see here).
You satisfy the ‘habitual residence’ and ‘right to reside’ tests, and are not a ‘person subject to immigration control’. These terms are explained in CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook. Overseas students can get further advice from UKCISA (see Appendix 2).
You have no more than £16,000 capital. There is no capital limit if you are getting pension credit guarantee credit.
Your income is sufficiently low (see Chapter 22).
What follows is a brief outline of the basic HB rules, including those that refer specifically to students. For more details, see CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook.
Liable for rent
You must be liable for rent. If you are jointly liable for the rent with others (eg, you have each signed the tenancy agreement), the amount of HB you get is based on your share of the rent (although, less commonly, it may not be an equal share if that seems reasonable to the local authority).
If you are in a couple, it does not matter whose name is on the rental agreement; either of you can claim. So if you are a student who is eligible for HB, you can claim for both of you, or if you are not eligible for HB, your non-student partner can claim for both of you.
There are some circumstances in which a local authority has the discretion to treat you as liable for the rent even when you are not legally liable – eg, if you have taken over paying the rent from someone else.
Your normal home
Usually, you can only get HB for one home and that is the place where you normally live. If you are away from your normal home, in some cases your HB may stop. In other cases, you can get HB for two homes at the same time.
You are away from your term-time home
In the summer vacation, you cannot get HB for any weeks you are away from your term-time home, unless you would live there even if you were not studying. To continue to get HB for weeks of absence, you need to argue that your main purpose for living there is not simply to make it easier to attend the course – eg, you were settled there before the course or you are independent of, or estranged from, your parents.1Reg 55 HB Regs However, if your grant or loan covers the summer vacation, your HB does not stop during any weeks of absence.2Regs 53(1), definition of ‘period of study’, and 55 HB Regs HB does not stop if you have to go into hospital.
If you leave your home during the academic year (or at any time if you live there not just to facilitate attending your course), your HB does not stop, provided you intend to return, you do not sublet, and you are not likely to be away for more than 52 weeks.3Reg 7(16)(c)(viii) HB Regs You cannot use this provision if you can get HB under the ‘two homes rule’ described below. The two homes rule is, however, more generous because it does not have a time limit.
Examples
Jon flatshares in Sheffield while attending university. He gets HB as a disabled student. During the summer vacation he goes home to stay with his parents in Leicester for seven weeks. His HB stops and on his return he has to claim universal credit.
Donna has always lived in Cardiff and is attending her local college. She is a lone parent and gets HB. She regularly visits her family in Aberystwyth during vacations. Her HB continues during her absence.
 
1     Reg 55 HB Regs »
2     Regs 53(1), definition of ‘period of study’, and 55 HB Regs »
3     Reg 7(16)(c)(viii) HB Regs »
You have two homes
If you live in one home so that you can attend your course and in another home at other times, but you are only liable for rent on one, you can get HB for that place even while you are not there. This rule applies to lone parents and single students eligible for HB. It does not help you if you pay rent at one place and a mortgage on the other.1Reg 7(3) HB Regs
Example
Emily’s normal home is in Bristol, where she lives with her 17 year old daughter who is at school. She has to pay rent for her Bristol home. Emily is studying at Leeds University and lives with a cousin rent free while in Leeds. Emily can get HB for her Bristol home throughout the year. Whether any HB is payable, and at what times, depends on the amount of her grant and loan.
A couple (one of whom is a student eligible for HB) who have to live in two separate homes can get HB on both if the local authority decides that this is reasonable.2Reg 7(6)(b) HB Regs
 
1     Reg 7(3) HB Regs »
2     Reg 7(6)(b) HB Regs »
Eligible accommodation
You can get HB to help pay the rent – eg, to a private landlord, local authority, housing association or co-operative. It is not essential for you to have a written tenancy agreement; it could be verbal. In some circumstances you cannot get HB – eg, if:1Reg 9 HB Regs
you live with and pay rent to your parents, a sister or brother, or a son or daughter (including in-laws, partners and step-relatives);
you pay rent to someone (who might be a relative or friend), but your tenancy is not on a commercial basis. This rule often prevents people getting HB if they live in a property owned by their parents. It is possible, however, to get HB in these circumstances if the tenancy is a commercial one. If this applies to you, get advice;
your tenancy was contrived in order to try to get HB;
you pay rent to an ex-partner with whom you used to share the home in which you now live.
 
1     Reg 9 HB Regs »
Halls of residence
You can get HB for rent in a student hall of residence.1Reg 57(4) HB Regs You must be a full-time student who is eligible for HB (see here). You cannot get HB in a hall if you are claiming while waiting to return to your course after taking time out because of disability, illness or caring responsibilities.
Part-time students can also get HB in a hall of residence if, had they been full time, they would have been eligible to claim HB as:
an under-22 year old in non-advanced education;
a lone parent;
a disabled student;
someone with a child and a full-time student partner; or
someone who has reached pension age (see here).
If you get income support (IS), income-based jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) or income-related employment and support allowance (ESA) as a part-time student, you can only get HB in a hall of residence if you are also one of the above. Although you can get HB, it might not cover the whole cost (see here).
Full-time students waiting to return to their course after a period of illness or caring, and part-time students on IS, income-based JSA or income-related ESA, and not in another category cannot get HB in a hall of residence during term time or short vacations unless the educational establishment does not own the hall, does not have a long-term lease on the building or does not rent it from the education authority.2Reg 57(2) HB Regs For example, if the university leases flats on a short-term lease from a private landlord and rents these to students, you can get HB. During the summer vacation, you can get HB if you remain in the hall, unless your student support covers the summer vacation.
 
1     Reg 57(4) HB Regs »
2     Reg 57(2) HB Regs »
4. Amount of benefit
The amount of housing benefit (HB) you get depends on the maximum rent the local authority is prepared to pay, and on your income compared with the amount the law says you need to live on. The amount you get may be reduced if your total income from benefits and tax credits is above a certain level (see here). To work out your HB, go through the following steps.
Step one: capital
If your capital is over £16,000, you cannot get HB unless you are over pension age and get pension credit (PC) guarantee credit (see here). Some kinds of capital are ignored. For details, see CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook.
Step two: maximum rent
There is a maximum amount of rent the local authority is prepared to cover. This might be less than the actual amount of rent you pay - eg, if you pay service charges that are not covered by HB (see below), or if your rent for HB purposes is reduced because you have a spare bedroom (see below).
HB does not cover some items included in rent, such as charges for:
water or sewerage;
fuel. Either the actual charge specified in the rental agreement or a fixed rate is deducted;
meals. If these are included in your rent, the local authority may deduct a fixed rate;
services. Some are included (eg, cleaning communal areas, provision of a laundry room and TV signal relay, including free-to-view TV but not an individual satellite dish or set-top box) and others are not (eg, sports facilities and TV rental).
See CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook for details of the deductions.
If you rent from a private landlord (including a hall of residence) and you claimed HB or moved home on or after 7 April 2008, your HB is based on a ‘standard local housing allowance’ for the size of property that applies to you, even if your rent is higher than this amount. If your rent is lower, HB is based on the amount of your actual rent. Each local authority has its own rates for properties of different sizes. Check your local authority’s rates at http://lha-direct.voa.gov.uk/search.aspx.
Generally, unless you are a single person aged under 35, you are allowed one bedroom for:
an adult couple;
another single adult aged 16 or over;
two children under 16 of the same sex;
two children under 10;
any other child.
You are allowed a maximum of four bedrooms. If you are a single person under 35, you usually only get a lower, shared-accommodation rate. If you are disabled and need overnight care, you may qualify for an additional bedroom for a carer. See CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook for details.
If the local housing allowance rules do not apply, your case is usually referred to a rent officer to decide how much help with rent you should get, based on other local rents. For details of these ‘local reference rent’ rules, see CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook.
If you rent from a local authority or housing association, your maximum rent is usually the same as the weekly rent due less any of the above ineligible charges. However, your HB is reduced if you are considered to have a spare bedroom (known as the ‘bedroom tax’). The rules about how many bedrooms you can have are similar to the local housing allowance rules, but see CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook for more information. If you are considered to have one spare bedroom, your maximum rent is reduced by 14 per cent and by 25 per cent if you have two spare bedrooms. If your HB is reduced in this way, you should apply for a discretionary housing payment from the local authority (see below).
 
Discretionary housing payments
If your HB does not cover your rent, you may be able to get a discretionary housing payment from your local authority. These can be paid if you get HB and need additional help with your housing costs – eg, to make up the shortfall in rent due to HB being reduced because you have a spare bedroom. They are usually awarded for a temporary period, beyond which you have to reapply.
Step three: deductions for non-dependants
An amount is deducted from your maximum rent if you have a ‘non-dependant’ living with you.
A ‘non-dependant’ is someone, usually a friend or adult relative, who lives with you but not on a commercial basis. A deduction is made to reflect an assumed contribution from her/him to the household, whether or not s/he pays anything. There is no deduction for:1Regs 3 and 74 HB Regs
a full-time student during the academic year (whether or not s/he works);
a full-time student during the summer vacation (but there is a deduction if s/he starts working 16 hours or more a week unless her/his student support covers the summer vacation);
a full-time student at any time if you or your partner have reached pension age;
a joint occupier or joint tenant;
a resident landlord;
a sub-tenant;
your partner or dependent child;
anyone under 18;
anyone under 25 if s/he gets universal credit (UC), provided s/he does not have any earned income for UC purposes, or if s/he gets income support (IS), income-based jobseeker’s allowance (JSA), income-related employment and support allowance (ESA) without a work-related activity component (or who is not in the ‘work-related activity group’) or support component (this usually only applies in the first 13 weeks of an ESA claim);
someone who gets a youth training allowance;
someone who normally lives elsewhere;
someone in hospital for more than 52 weeks, or in prison;
a live-in paid carer from a voluntary organisation;
someone on PC.
No deductions are made for your non-dependants if you or your partner are registered blind, get the disability living allowance care component, personal independence payment daily living component or attendance allowance.
For anyone else, fixed deductions are made based on the non-dependant’s income. See CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook for details and amounts. Note: if your non-dependant is working, you should provide the local authority with evidence of her/his gross income. If you do not, the local authority may make the highest deduction.
If you or your partner have reached pension age and do not get IS, income-based JSA, income-related ESA or UC, the deduction is not made until 26 weeks after the non-dependant moves in with you. Likewise if her/his income goes up, increasing the deduction, the increased deduction does not take effect for 26 weeks.
 
1     Regs 3 and 74 HB Regs »
Step four: getting a means-tested benefit
If you get IS, income-based JSA, income-related ESA, UC or PC, HB is the amount worked out at Step three – ie, your maximum rent less any amount for non-dependants. In this case, you do not need to continue with the rest of these steps.
Step five: not getting a means-tested benefit
If you do not get IS, income-based JSA, income-related ESA, UC or PC, you must compare your income with your weekly needs.
Step six: work out your applicable amount
This is an amount for your basic weekly needs. It is made up of:
personal allowances;
premiums;
a work-related activity or support component if you have limited capability for work.
The applicable amount includes amounts for yourself and for your partner, if you have one. It also includes amounts for any dependent children. The amounts for HB are the same as for IS (s
ee here), but with the following differences.
Personal allowance:
a child allowance is included in HB;
single people under 25 and lone parents under 18 who are entitled to main phase ESA get £74.35;
young couples get £116.80, unless both are under 18 and the claimant is not entitled to main phase ESA (see here), in which case they get £89.00;
single people have a personal allowance of £187.75 if they have reached pension age (see here);
couples get £280.85 if one or both has reached pension age (see here), and they do not get IS, income-based JSA, income-related ESA or UC.
Premiums:
a family premium is included in your HB if you already have an existing claim which includes a child. It is not included in an existing claim if you later have a child, or in new claims from 1 May 2016;
a disabled child premium and enhanced disability premium for a child are included in HB;
you do not get a disability premium if you have been assessed as having limited capability for work for ESA and you (ie, not your partner) are the HB claimant.
Components:
instead of a disability premium, a work-related activity component of £29.55 is included if you claimed ESA before 3 April 2017 and have limited capability for work, or a support component of £39.20 is included if you have limited capability for work-related activity (see here).
Step seven: work out your weekly income
Chapter 22 explains how your loan, grant or other income is taken into account and how to work out your weekly income.
Step eight: calculate your housing benefit
If your income is less than or the same as your applicable amount, HB is the amount worked out at Step three – ie, your maximum rent less any amounts for non-dependants.
If your income is more than your applicable amount, work out 65 per cent of the difference. Your HB is the amount worked out at Step three (ie, your maximum rent less any amounts for non-dependants) minus 65 per cent of the difference between your income and applicable amount.
Examples
Maria is 18 and studying full time for a National Diploma in animal care. Her course lasts for one year (40 weeks in total). She shares a private-rented flat with a friend. They each pay £70 a week rent. She has payments from the 16–19 bursary fund, totalling £500. The local housing allowance shared accommodation rate in her area is £60 a week (her maximum rent for HB).
£
Maximum rent
60.00
Applicable amount
58.90
Income (16–19 bursary fund payments disregarded)
0
Weekly HB
60.00
 
Craig is a lone parent with two children, aged three and six. He is a first-year student, and his course commences on 28 September 2020. He is a joint tenant with his friend Karl, who is not a student. Craig’s share of the rent is £95. His income is his student support (including a loan with a maintenance element and a special support element, plus a parents’ learning allowance), child tax credit (CTC), child benefit and HB. His HB is reassessed at the start of the academic year.
Craig’s HB entitlement from September 2020 is calculated as follows.
 
£
Eligible rent
95.00
Applicable amount:
 
Personal allowance
74.35
Allowances for two children
136.54
Family premium
17.60
Total applicable amount
228.49
 
 
 
Income:
 
Student loan
6,597
Less travel
303
Less books and equipment (£390) = 5,904
 
Divided by 42 weeks =
 
(7 September 2020 to 27 June 2021)
140.57
Less £10 disregard =
130.57
(Special support element of the loan and parents’ learning allowance disregarded in full)
 
CTC
119.14
Total income
249.71
 
 
Craig’s HB is worked out as follows:
Craig’s income (£249.71) is more than his applicable amount (£228.49) by £21.22. He must contribute 65 per cent of this (£13.79) to his rent, with the remaining £81.21 met by HB. However, as his course does not start until 28 September, his student income is not taken into account for the first four weeks. If he were a second-year student, it would be.
 
Summer 2021:
Craig’s student loan is only treated as income between 28 September 2020 and 27 June 2021. If Craig has no other income than CTC and HB at this point, he should get a better-off calculation to help him decide wheher to claim UC.
Northern Ireland:
If Craig were living in Northern Ireland, his HB for rent would be calculated using the rules set out above (although he would receive different rates of student support). If, in addition to his rent, he were liable to pay rates of £15 a week, he would receive this in full if his income is below his applicable amount.
If, however, he had, for example, £26 more weekly income than his applicable amount, his HB for rates would be calculated as follows:
 
 
£
Income less applicable amount
26.00
20% x £26 =
5.20
2% x £26 =
3.12
 
 
HB for rates:
 
Maximum rates £15 – £5.20 =
9.80
Rate relief:
 
Maximum rates £15 – £9.80 =
5.20
Remaining rate liability £5.20 – £3.12=
2.08
 
 
Craig would be entitled to £78.10 HB for rent (his rent less 65% of his excess income) and £9.80 for rates, plus rate relief of £2.08.
5. Claiming housing benefit
If you can still make a claim for housing benefit (HB) (see here), you can get a claim form from your local authority HB office. You may also be able to claim online. If you return the form to your local HB office, ask for a receipt. If you return it by post, keep a copy, as claim forms are often lost. If you need to fill in another form, the local authority can backdate it if you can show the date of your original claim.
If you are also claiming income support (IS), income-based jobseeker’s allowance (JSA), employment and support allowance (ESA) or pension credit (PC), you may be able to claim HB at the same time. The DWP should either take your claim over the phone or give you a form, usually Form HCTB1.
When your housing benefit starts
Your HB starts from when you make your claim. It can be backdated for up to one month if you ask for this and you have continuous ‘good cause’ for not claiming throughout the whole period. When deciding whether there is good cause to backdate a claim, a local authority must take into account how a reasonable person of your age, experience and state of health would have acted or failed to act in the same circumstances.1Reg 83(12) HB Regs; R(S) 2/63(T) If you have reached pension age (see here) and are not on IS, income-based JSA or income-related ESA, HB can be backdated for up to three months whatever the reason for the delay.
HB is usually paid directly into your rent account if you are a council tenant, otherwise it is either paid to you or directly to your landlord.
By law, local authorities are supposed to pay you within 14 days of receiving your completed claim form or as soon as possible after that. However, in many areas there are long delays. If you are a private tenant, ask for a ‘payment on account’ until your claim can be properly assessed. Local authorities are legally obliged to give you an interim payment of a reasonable amount, unless it is obvious that you will not be entitled to HB or you have not supplied information that has been requested.
 
1     Reg 83(12) HB Regs; R(S) 2/63(T) »
6. Challenging a decision
If you think a decision about your housing benefit is wrong (eg, because the decision maker got the facts or law wrong), there are a number of ways you can try to get the decision changed.
You can ask for the decision to be looked at again (known as a ‘revision’ or a ‘supersession’). In some cases, you must show specific grounds. In others, you must apply within a strict time limit, usually one month.
You can appeal to the independent First-tier Tribunal. There are strict time limits for appealing - usually one month from the date you are sent the decision. You can make a late appeal in limited circumstances.
If you are considering challenging a decision, get advice as soon as possible.
7. Other benefits and tax credits
Child tax credit (CTC) counts in full as income when housing benefit (HB) is worked out. It is the actual amount you are paid that counts. If your CTC award is reduced because an overpayment of tax credit is being recovered, it is the reduced amount that counts for HB. If you are underpaid CTC and get a lump-sum repayment, this is treated as capital for HB, so it only affects your HB if it takes your savings above the capital limit. The rules are the same for working tax credit (WTC).
Child benefit is disregarded as income for HB.
Bear in mind that you should tell the local authority about any changes in income when they occur, including benefit and tax credit changes. Do not assume that the DWP or HM Revenue and Customs passes on the information for you.
The benefit cap
Your HB is reduced if your total income from benefits is over the maximum amount that you or your partner can receive. The amount is £384.62 a week if you are a lone parent or member of a couple, and £257.69 if you are a single person.
Most benefits count towards the cap, including income support, jobseeker’s allowance, employment and support allowance (ESA), child benefit, CTC and HB. The cap also applies to universal credit (see here).
You are exempt from the cap if you or your partner are working, or if you are disabled, a carer or a war widow(er). To count as working, you must get WTC. You are exempt from the cap because of disability if you or your partner get certain disability benefits, including disability living allowance (DLA), personal independence payment (PIP) and ESA with a support component. You are also exempt if a child or young person for whom you are responsible gets DLA or PIP. You are exempt if you or your partner get carer’s allowance.
There is protection for nine months before the cap applies if you are no longer working but were working at least 16 hours a week for the last year.

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