How we calculate Housing Benefit and understanding your benefit award letter

The amount you will be paid

To work out whether you're entitled to Housing Benefit 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, 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, 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   £58.90
Age 25 - 60/Lone Parent over 18   £74.35
Aged under 65 £173.75
Aged 65 and over £187.75
Couple Allowances
Couple AllowancesAmounts
Under 18  £89.00
18 and over £116.80
1 or both aged 60-65 £265.20
1 or Both aged over 65 £280.85
Dependants Under 20 in education   £68.27
Premium Amounts
Family £17.45
Disabled Child £65.52
Carer £37.50
Disability Single £34.95
Disability Couple £49.80
Enhanced Disability Single/Lone
Enhanced Disability Couple £24.50
Enhanced Disability Child £26.60
Severe Disability Single £66.95
Severe Disability Couple
but only one person qualifies
Severe Disability Couple both

Your Housing Benefit notification letter

The notification letter will tell you:

  • When your Housing Benefit 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).

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.  The applicable amount is made up personal allowances and premiums as in the table above. You can find more information about Premiums.

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 equalised for both men and women to 65.  From December 2018 it will start to increase to reach 66 in October 2020. This will further increase between 2026 and 2028 to 67.

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.

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.  


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?

  • Contact the Citizens Advice Bureau for further advice. They can help you to fill in forms or to write a letter.

Contact Shelter which is the housing and homelessness charity or use their freephone number of 0808 800 4444. They offer advice about money matters, homes and housing problems.