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Housing Benefit and help with rent on Universal Credit

Can you get help with your rent and Council Tax?

The benefits system is changing for people of working age, and over the next few years, new claims for help with rent will usually be for Universal Credit. If you have an existing claim for Housing Benefit, this will usually carry on until you have a change of circumstances which would require a new claim.

Pensioners are not affected by this change and will continue to get Housing Benefit.

People in temporary accommodation or in certain accommodation where counselling and support is provided will receive Housing Benefit instead of Universal Credit (UC) for help with their rent.

Find out more about Universal Credit and how it is changing.

Housing Benefit

You can claim Housing Benefit if you're a tenant, and if you're on a low income. How much help you get with rent depends on how much you are liable to pay and how much your weekly income is.

You can claim Housing Benefit whether or not you're working. Usually you mustn't have over £16,000 in savings, but pensioners who receive the ‘Guarantee Credit’ of Pension Credit are exempt from this.

If you get Income Support, Income based Jobseeker's Allowance, Income Related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Guarantee Pension Credit, you'll usually get the maximum possible help with your rent.

Universal Credit

If you receive Universal Credit (UC) your housing costs will be included in your benefit payment. UC is new to Derbyshire and, at the moment, only a limited number of people claim it.

However, if you're renting privately, the help you get with your rent may be limited by something called a 'Local Housing Allowance', and social rents may be affected by the ‘under-occupation deduction’ (nicknamed the bedroom tax) for more information about this, please call the Benefits Helpline tel: 01629 531535.

Limits on Housing Benefit and Universal Credit for rent

The help you get with your rent may be limited by rules concerning how many bedrooms you have in your home – this is called the 'Local Housing Allowance' for private rents - social rents may be affected by the ‘under-occupation deduction’ (nicknamed the Bedroom Tax) for more information about this, please call the Benefits Helpline on tel: 01629 531535.

Payments of Housing Benefit or UC may also be affected by the Benefit Cap – a limit on your overall entitlement to some working age benefits. Seek help if you are affected by this.

Discretionary Housing Payments

Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) are extra amounts of money awarded by your local district or borough council to help with housing costs. 

DHPs come from an annual cash-limited fund and aren't part of the benefit system.

You may be able to get a DHP if you receive:

  • Housing Benefit
  • Universal Credit (where this includes money for your housing costs)

You may be in or out of work, what matters is which benefit you receive.

You need to make an application for a DHP, and you'll need to show why you need extra help with housing costs.

This may be because:

  • your Housing Benefit doesn't cover the full rent - for instance because it's been decided that you have too many bedrooms
  • you're affected by the Benefit Cap
  • you need a deposit, removal costs or rent in advance as long as you're entitled to HB or UC (which includes housing costs) at the time DHP is awarded
  • you have rent arrears
  • you're in danger of becoming homeless
  • a DHP could be a regular sum, or a lump sum

You can't get a DHP for increases in rent because of rent arrears, benefit reductions owing to sanctions or overpayments, Council Tax costs, water charges, some service charges or most mortgage or loan costs.

Council Tax support

Council Tax support is now provided through your local council. People of working age, dependent on where they live, may find that they have to pay a percentage of their Council Tax, even if they've not previously been asked to pay.

Council Tax reduction (or Council Tax support) is now the responsibility of your local district or borough council. Links to all local schemes are given on this page.

Help for pensioners will remain the same, but some people of working age, may find themselves paying a proportion of their Council Tax - even if they're on basic benefits which previously led to a full rebate.

Even if you can't get Council Tax reduction, you may still be entitled to a non-means-tested discount to lower your total bill if for example:

  • a disabled person lives in the property
  • a room is needed for that person's needs
  • there is an extra kitchen or bathroom for the disabled person
  • you're the only adult in the property

Pensioners may still receive 100% help with council tax bills.

District and borough council details:

You can find out more about Housing Benefit and Council Tax on your local district or borough council website:

Contact us by email: or phone the Benefits Helpline, tel: 01629 531535, on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 11am to 4pm.