Changes to Housing Benefit


Changes to Housing Benefit

What is changing?

The Government is making changes to the way Housing Benefit is calculated for people who are single and aged 25 to 34.

Currently most single people under 25 years old have their Housing Benefit calculated using the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) Shared Accommodation Rate (or Single Room Rent if they have been claiming continuously since before April 2008 and haven't moved).

However, from 1 January 2012, the shared accommodation rate of Local Housing Allowance will be extended to people under the age of 35. Your Housing Benefit will be calculated using this rate even if you actually live in self-contained accommodation.

The shared accommodation rate reflects the costs of renting non-self-contained accommodation in the private sector, where the tenant has exclusive use of a bedroom but shares other facilities such as a bathroom.

If you live in a property that is not self-contained there will be no change, as the Shared Accommodation Rate would already apply regardless of your age.

What does this mean for me?

If you are currently receiving Housing Benefit based on the one bedroom rate the amount you receive is likely to go down. The shared accommodation rate will become the maximum Housing Benefit you can receive. If you are getting, or thinking of claiming Housing Benefit, you need to consider this change before you renew or make a new tenancy agreement with a private landlord.

Who does this change affect?

This change will apply to you if you:

  • Are under 35 years of age
  • Are single (do not have a partner who normally lives with you)
  • Rent from a private landlord (not a Housing Association) and

live in self-contained accommodation (i.e. have at least one bedroom with exclusive use of a bathroom and toilet and a kitchen or facilities for cooking)

However, there are exceptions and the changes will not apply if you:

  • Have one or more dependent children living with you  
  • Have someone else living with you as part of your household
  • Live in certain types of supported accommodation
  • Are under 22 years of age and were previously in Social Services care
  • Have a severe disability premium in your benefit assessment because you are entitled to the middle or higher rate care component of the Disability Living Allowance
  • Have a carer who normally lives elsewhere but stays overnight because you need care, and have a bedroom for the carer to use
  • Are between 25 and 35 and subject to assistance under an active Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangement (MAPPA)
  • Are between 25 and 35 and have been assisted by support services to be resettled having spent three months or more in hostel accommodation

The Shared Accommodation Rate

The rate that might apply to you will depend on where in the district you live and from when the change takes affect; therefore, we cannot say exactly what rate will apply to you. However, the current Shared Accommodation Rates for Rother can be found at

When will this change happen?

New claims

Single claimants under the age of 35 and making a new claim after 1 January 2012 will be affected by these changes immediately

Existing claims

Single claimant under the age of 35 who are receiving transitional protection from the April 2011 Local Housing Allowance changes, will move onto the Shared Accommodation Rate when their transitional protection ceases.

All other existing claimants who are single and under 35 will move to the shared accommodation rate on the anniversary of their claim.

This will also apply if your Housing Benefit is not calculated using the Local Housing Allowance because you have been claiming Housing Benefit from before April 2008.

What should I do now?

If you currently receive Housing Benefit you need to think about how these changes affect your finances. You may wish to talk to you landlord to see if they are prepared to reduce the rent to assist you. If your landlord does reduce your rent we may be able to pay Housing Benefit directly to them if this would help you keep your tenancy.

If you are considering signing a new tenancy or renewing an existing one, whether you receive Housing Benefit now, or think you may need to claim in the near future, you need to be aware of how the changes will affect you. You may want to discuss your situation with another agency, such as the Citizens Advice Bureau, who can provide independent advice.

Additional Financial Assistance

If as a result of these changes you struggle to pay the shortfall in your rent, there is a scheme where additional financial support can be provided by the Council. This is called a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP). It's not part of the normal Housing Benefit scheme and as the name suggests payments are awarded according to the council's discretion. However, this is not intended to be a long term or permanent solution as the amount of money available is limited.

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