Housing benefit: Over 1 million families are missing out on £3,100 a year – can you claim?

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Universal Credit is replacing housing benefit and a number of other legacy benefits but for now, it is still possible to claim housing benefit under certain conditions. Payments from housing benefit can be quite generous but new evidence suggest millions could be missing out on the state support.

Recently, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) released their latest estimates for income-related benefit take up for the financial year 2018 to 2019.

Within this release, it was revealed up to 1.1 million families who were entitles to housing benefit did not claim it.

This amounts to £3.4billion going unclaimed, averaging out to around £3,100 per year for eligible families.

The monetary value for some families could be even higher as the government states there is no set amount on housing benefit payments.

As it stands, it is possible to make a new claim for housing benefit if any of the following apply:

  • The claimant is getting the severe disability premium from the government or are entitled to it
  • They got or were entitled to the severe disability premium within the previous month and are still eligible for it
  • They have reached state pension age
  • They’re in supported, sheltered or temporary housing

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The amount paid will depend on the claimant’s circumstances but the payments could help with all or parts of the rents due.

How much a person will receive will depend on the claimants “eligible” rent (actual rent plus any service charges that have to be paid), if there are any spare rooms, household income and other circumstances.

To make a new claim for housing benefit, a person will need to go through their local council.

Additionally, a claim for housing benefit can be put through along with a pension credit claim.

Claims can also be made in advance by up to 13 weeks, which could be useful for people who are moving.

It should be noted however that money will usually not be paid out before moving.

Claims may also be backdated but this will need to be checked with local councils.

Housing benefit decisions can be reconsidered and appealed if a claimant is unhappy with an outcome.

It should be noted housing benefit will not cover heating, hot water, energy bills or food.

Where additional help is needed, councils may be able to award discretionary housing payments which can cover certain housing costs.

These payments can cover rent shortfalls, rent deposits or rent in advance if a claimant needs to move home.

Universal Credit can also provide additional payments for housing costs but these cannot be received while a person is claiming housing benefit.

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