How we calculate benefit and understanding your benefit award letter

How much will you be paid?

To work out whether you're entitled to Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support we need to look at your weekly income and also who lives with you.

We then compare your income to the amount the Government says you need to live on. This amount is called your applicable amount.

If your income is the same as or less than your applicable amount, you could get maximum eligible Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support, but this can be reduced if other people live with you.

If your income is more than your applicable amount, you may still be able to get some Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support, but again this will depend on your income and by other people who live with you. 

The applicable amount is calculated by adding together the appropriate Personal Allowances and Premiums using the amounts in the following tables.

Single Personal Allowances
Single Personal Allowances Amounts
Age 16 - 24/Lone Parent under 18  £57.90

Age 25 - 60/Lone Parent over 18   

 £73.10

Aged 60 - 64

 £159.35

Aged 65 and over

 £172.55

Couple Allowances
Couple Allowances Amounts 
  Under 18  £87.50 
 18 and over  £114.85
 Both aged 60-64  £243.25
 1 or Both aged over 65                 £258.15
Dependants Under 20 in education
  £66.90
Premiums
Premium Amounts
 Family                                             £17.45
 Disabled Child £60.60 
 Carer £34.95
Disability Single £32.55
Disability Couple £46.40

Enhanced Disability Single/Lone
Parent                                            

£15.90
Enhanced Disability Couple  £22.85
Enhanced Disability Child  £24.78
Severe Disability Single   £62.45

Severe Disability Couple
but only one person qualifies

£62.45
Severe Disability Couple both
qualify
£124.90

Family premium

Your applicable amount will include a family premium if you have one or more dependant children. Only one family premium will apply, regardless of the number of children or young people there are in your household.

From 1 May 2016 the Family Premium will no longer be payable to those who are currently in receipt of Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support and have their first child on or after the 1 May 2016 or become responsible for a child or young person on or after 1 May 2016.

For new claims to Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support the Family Premium will no longer be payable for children born on or after 1 May 2016 or claims made on or after 1 May 2016.

What counts as a dependent child or young person?

A dependant child or young person is any child or young person from the age of 0 to 20 who you claim child benefit for.

They don't count as a dependant if they get Income Support, income-based Jobseekers' Allowance (JSA), income-based Employment And Support Allowance (ESA) or Universal Credit. 

Disabled child premium

Your applicable amount will include a disabled child premium if you or your partner is responsible for a child or young person living in your household who meets at least one of the following conditions:

  • is blind
  • gets Disability Living Allowance
  • gets Personal Independence Payment
  • would get one of these benefits if they were not in hospital.

You can get the disabled child premium for each child who satisfies one of these conditions.

If your child dies, the disabled child premium will continue to apply for eight weeks as long as you are still getting Child Benefit during this period.

Enhanced disability premium

We will include the enhanced disability premium in your applicable amount if you have a child or young person living with you as a member of your family and they are entitled to either:

  • the highest rate care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA), or
  • the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

If an award of DLA or PIP stops because the child or young person goes into hospital the premium continues to apply. If the child or young person dies, the premium continues to apply during the period when Child Benefit is still being paid.

Carer's premium

We will include the carer's premium in your applicable amount if either you or your partner is entitled to Carer's Allowance. You might still qualify for the premium if you're entitled to Carer's Allowance but don't actually get it because of overlapping benefit rules. You must have actually made a claim for Carer's Allowance in order for the premium to apply.

What if both you and your partner qualify for carer's premium?

If both you and your partner qualify for carer's premium, two premiums will be included in your applicable amount.

What if your entitlement to Carer's Allowance ends?

If the person you care for dies, the carer's premium will continue to be included in your applicable amount for eight weeks. The eight week begins on the Sunday following the death or from the date of the death, if this is a Sunday.

If your entitlement to Carer's Allowance ends for any other reason, the premium will continue to apply for eight weeks

Your notification letter

The notification letters will tell you:

  • When your Housing Benefit starts and how much it is

  • When your Council Tax Support starts and how much it is

  • How your benefit or support has been worked out

There may also be descriptions on your award letter that you do not understand, these items will be the name of the figures used in the calculation.

To help you understand this information we have created an explanation sheet for Housing Benefit (PDF, 100KB)  and Council Tax Support (PDF, 127KB).

The main terms you will come across are as listed below.

Applicable amount

This is the amount of money the Government says someone in your current circumstances needs to live on. If you get less than this amount you may also qualify for other welfare benefits.  If you think this is the case you can either speak to one of our advisors or use the Benefits adviser tool at  Gov.uk

Income disregards

Depending on the type of income or benefits you are getting, some of the money can be ignored when your benefit is worked out. This figure is shown separately as an Income Disregard.

Excess income

If your income is more than the government says you need to live on, then the difference is known as excess income. If you have excess income then you are expected to use this to contribute to your council tax and any rental costs.

Working Age or Pension Age?

The qualifying age for State Pension Credit has gradually increased in line with with the pension age for women (and from December 2018 for both men and women) finally ending in 2020 when the pension ages for men and women will be equalized to 66, this will further increase between 2026 and 2028 to 67

Please use the State Pension calculator on GOV.UK to find out if you have reached State Pension Credit Age

Tariff income from capital for Housing Benefit purposes

This is calculated as follows:-

  • If you are working age the first £6,000 of your capital will be disregarded. For each £250 (or part of) above this figure, we must add £1 to your weekly income.
  • If you are pensionable age the first £10,000 of your capital will be disregarded. For each £500 (or part of) above this figure, we must add £1 to your weekly income.

Tariff income from capital for Council Tax support purposes

This is calculated as follows:-

  • If you are working age the first £6,000 of your capital will be disregarded. From 1 April 2016 any capital over £6,000 means you will no longer qualify for Council Tax Support
  • If you are pensionable age the first £10,000 of your capital will be disregarded. For each £500 (or part of) above this figure, we must add £1 to your weekly income.

Non-dependant deductions

These are deductions made from the amount of benefit payable to you. This will be because you have another adult living in the property who is not your partner, such as a grown up child (aged 18 and over). The deduction amount is based on their age and circumstances and will vary. If we do not know what there income is it may affect the amount of help you receive. 

RFW's - Rent Free Weeks

As Housing Benefit is calculated on a weekly basis we have to take account of any weeks where you are not charged rent to calculate the correct amount of Housing Benefit award.  In order to do this we add up the total amount of rent charged for the year and then divide it by the number of weeks you are actually charged rent.  We when use this figure to calculate your entitlement to Housing Benefit.

Example - You are charged £75 per week for your rent, but you do not pay rent for 4 weeks of the year. The calculation would be £75X48/52 = £69.23p, which will be used to work out your weekly entitlement to Housing Benefit.  

Appeals

You have the right to ask for your claim to be looked at again. If you disagree with the decision made or any of the figures we have used in your award calculation, you must put this in writing and make sure it reaches us within one month of the date on the top of your award letter.

What if I don’t get enough help?

Discretionary Housing Payments are additional payments made by the Council to help people with their rent.  These payments are separate to Housing Benefit and are allocated from a set budget. This means that any award payable to you will be for a short period only.

We cannot award you a discretionary payment towards your rent if you do not already get Housing Benefit or Universal Credit.

In order to make a claim for a discretionary housing payment you will be asked to complete a financial statement that will ask about all of your income and outgoings.

Where can I get help?

Please contact the Citizens Advice Bureau for further advice. 

They can help you to fill in forms or to write a letter.

Please contact Shelter which is the housing and homelessness charity or use their freephone number of 0808 8004444. They offer advice about money matters, homes and housing problems.