Advice and Guidance on Housing Benefit

From 24 October 2018 Housing Benefit will only be available to certain groups. If you make a Housing Benefit claim but are not eligible, this will delay any help you may be entitled to.

The following sections answer many questions about Housing Benefit, including advice on 'How to Apply'.

What is Housing Benefit?

Housing Benefit is a national welfare benefit administered by local councils on behalf of the Government. The scheme helps people of Pension Credit age on low incomes pay their rent and those who have not migrated to Universal Credit or are presently excluded from claiming the housing cost element of Universal Credit.

The amount of housing benefit that a person qualifies for depends upon the level of their income and capital, and the number, age and circumstances of people in the claimant's household. 

Housing Benefit or Universal Credit will not provide financial help for Council Tax. You may be eligible to receive Council Tax Support if you are liable for council tax.

What is Local Housing Allowance?

If you are renting a property or room from a private landlord (excluding housing association tenants), changing address or making a new housing benefit claim, you will have your housing benefit calculated using the Local Housing Allowance (LHA).

For further information visit the Housing Benefit and Local Housing Allowance page.

Who can claim Housing Benefit?

Housing Benefit is now only available to the following groups:

  • You / and your partner are Pension Credit age
  • You are Working age living in supported or temporary homeless accommodation

and you are liable to pay rent on a property you are occupying as your home. Your income and capital (savings and investments) will need to be below a certain level.

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Who can't claim Housing Benefit?

You can't usually get housing benefit if:

  • You are working age, instead you must claim Universal Credit (please visit the Universal Credit page)
  • You already receive the housing costs element of Universal Credit
  • You have savings of over £16,000, unless you are receiving the 'guarantee credit' element of Pension Credit
  • You live in the home of a close relative who resides with you
  • Certain persons from abroad or people who have recently returned to the UK

How do I apply for Housing Benefit?

Only certain groups can now claim Housing Benefit. Please visit the Universal Credit page if you are working age and require help with your rent.

If you are Pension Credit age or part of a group who can still claim housing benefit, you must fill in an application form and send it to the Benefits section at Pippbrook. You can ask for a form by contacting the Benefits team on 01306 879187, or by email at If you are also liable for council tax you will make an application for Council Tax Support at the same time.

Make sure you complete and return the form immediately as benefit is normally awarded from the Monday following the date the application form is received by Mole Valley District Council (MVDC). You will also need to provide evidence in support of your claim. Some examples of the proofs required include: ID, pay slips, occupational pension, other benefits, tax credits, rental liability (tenancy agreement) all your capital (bank statements, bond certificates, etc).

Please note due to the Covid-19 pandemic our Customer Service reception remains closed and we are asking customers to not send their personal or sensitive documents to us via the post. These documents include:

  • Passport
  • Bank statements
  • Birth certificates
  • NI card
  • Drivers Licence
  • Medical/Health related information

Instead we are requesting that you scan, screen grab or photograph on your mobile phone the evidence to be submitted and email it to . For passports copy only the page containing photo and personal details (ensure the full page is captured in the image). For ID card, residency card, visa or Driving licence copy both pages. If you are providing for more than one ID documents please ensure each document is provided as a separate attachment.

While we are still accepting non personal / sensitive documents and copies of original documents (that you do not want returned) by post, you may also wish to send these by email to us.

We do not need to verify a document that has already been verified by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). If you are in receipt of Universal Credit or any DWP/Pension Credit benefit we can accept that your identity has been verified and there is no need for us to request further information regarding your identity.

If you haven't got all the evidence asked for in support of your claim, send whatever you have with the form straightaway. You can send the rest in within one calendar month. MVDC will write to you for any further information it needs.

If you make a claim for Guaranteed Pension Credit then you can make your initial claim for Housing benefit or Council Tax Support at the Pension Service. MVDC will write to you for any further information it needs.

How is my Housing Benefit worked out?

The amount of housing benefit that you will be entitled to depends upon how much your weekly income is and what your circumstances are, for example, your age, the size of your family and whether anyone in the house is elderly or disabled.

Once MVDC has looked carefully at your income and your circumstances, it then does a calculation. Generally speaking, the higher your income is, the less your weekly benefit will be.

If you are in receipt of Guaranteed Pension Credit and you have no grown up people living with you other than your partner, then you may qualify for full eligible housing benefit. Full Eligible Housing Benefit may not be your full rent.

Your claim for housing benefit will be continuous for as long as you are entitled. However, MVDC will contact you from time to time either by arranging a visit or by post to check that it is using the correct information to calculate your benefit.

What is backdated Housing Benefit?

You may be able to claim housing benefit for a past period. This is called backdating.

For more information, please visit the Backdating Claims page.

What to do when you think the Housing Benefit decision is wrong

You can ask for a detailed explanation of our decision as it may help you to decide if you think our decision is wrong. If you think the council's benefit decision is wrong you must write to it explaining why. Your letter must reach the council within a month of the date on the benefit decision letter that you disagree with.

For more information, please visit the How to Appeal a Benefits Decision page.

What are Changes in Circumstances?

During the time you are receiving benefit you may have certain changes in your circumstances, such as a change of job, the receipt of another state benefit, or someone moving in, or out of your home.

You must notify the council of all changes in your circumstances, in writing, as soon as they happen.

Please note due to the Covid-19 pandemic our Customer Service reception remains closed and we are asking customers to not send their personal or sensitive documents to us via the post.

For further information, please visit the Change in Circumstances page.

What is the Benefit Cap?

The Government applies a 'cap' (a maximum limit) on the total amount of benefit, including Housing Benefit, that people can get. It means that the amount of benefit a household can receive in the Mole Valley area will be limited to no more than £384.62 per week for couples and families and £257.69 per week for single people.

Pensioners and customers of working age who are entitled to Working Tax Credit will not be subjected to this 'cap'. Other exemptions apply for those who are disabled, receiving Carers / Guardians Allowance or are war widows/widowers.

For more information on the Benefit Cap including which benefits count towards it and the households that aren't affected, please visit GOV.UK.

What is Under Occupation?

From April 2013 the Government introduced new rules that set out the number of bedrooms Housing Benefit will pay for, if you are renting from:

  • a local authority
  • a registered housing association or
  • another registered social landlord

The size criteria rules will only apply to claimants of working age.

The rules restrict the level of benefit that can be paid if your property is too large for your needs. You can find out more on the number of rooms you are eligible for by visiting the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) website and using their LHA Bedroom Calculator.

If you are under-occupying there will be a reduction in your Housing Benefit of:

  • 14% for under-occupancy by one bedroom
  • 25% for under-occupancy by two bedrooms or more

For further information, please visit the National Housing Federation website.

What are Discretionary Housing Payments?

Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) are available to top up a shortfall in your rent for a short period of time, available to existing housing benefit claimants. They are also available to contribute to the cost of moving home for low income households. To qualify you need to demonstrate that you are in severe financial hardship.

DHP's are not the same as housing benefit. They are funded from a special fund of money which is allocated to us each year. The DHP fund is limited and once the fund has been spent, no more DHP's can be awarded.

If you wish to make an application for a DHP, in the first instance you should contact the Benefits Section on 01306 879187, or email

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For telephone enquiries, please ask for the Benefits team on 01306 879187, or email