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Cambridge City Council

Housing benefit

Housing benefit helps you pay your rent if you’re on a low income. Claiming it won't affect any other benefits you receive.

If you’re not sure which council you need to make a claim with, find your local council. If you make an application to the wrong council, the start of your claim and any payments to you could be delayed.


You can claim housing benefit if you pay rent and your income, savings and investments are below a certain level.

You must be a council tenant, or living in housing association accommodation or a hostel.

If you are a private tenant, you might be able to claim local housing allowance (LHA) instead.

You are unlikely to be considered eligible to claim housing benefit if:

  • you have savings of over £16,000, unless you are aged 60 or over and receive the ‘guarantee credit’ of pension credit
  • you live in the home of a close relative
  • you’re a full-time student, unless you are disabled or have children
  • you’re an asylum seeker or are sponsored to be in the UK

Other restrictions:

  • If you live with a partner only one of you can claim housing benefit.
  • If you are single and aged under 25 you can only get housing benefit for bed-sit accommodation or a single room in shared accommodation.

How much you will get

Use our benefits calculator for an estimate of how much you could receive.

Eligible rent

Your housing benefit will not exceed your 'eligible' rent. This is the amount used to work out your benefit, but it may not be the same as your full rent.

Eligible rent includes:

  • rent for accommodation
  • charges for some services, such as communal laundry facilities or play areas

Even if the following are included in your rent, you won't get any housing benefit for:

  • charges for water, heating, hot water, lighting, or cooking
  • payments for food or fuel in board and lodgings accommodation or hostels

Your home and the rent you pay

We ask whether:

  • the amount of rent is reasonable for your particular home
  • your home is a reasonable size for you and your family
  • the amount of rent is reasonable for the area where you live

Your eligible rent could be limited to an amount that's reasonable for a suitably sized property in the area you live.

Your personal and financial circumstances

The amount of housing benefit you could receive also depends on:

  • the money you and your partner or civil partner have coming in, including earnings, some benefits and tax credits, and occupational pensions
  • your savings (and your partner's or civil partner's savings)
  • your circumstances,such as your age, the size of your family and their ages, whether you or any of your family are disabled, and if anyone who lives with you could help with the rent

Make a claim

You can make a claim online. Find our more about how to make a benefit claim.

How housing benefit is paid

Council tenants will have their housing benefit paid directly to their housing rent account.

Private tenants can choose from these options:

  • direct to bank account
  • via crossed-cheque
  • direct to your landlord

Discretionary housing payments

Discretionary housing payments (DHP) are extra payments to help pay rent.

We can give DHPs to people claiming housing benefit or who have housing costs paid with their Universal Credit and need extra help if these costs are more than the amount of benefit they get.