A young person’s age will affect their housing benefit claim.
Housing benefit is a benefit paid by local councils to help people on low incomes or benefits pay their rent. Housing benefit does not cover all housing costs, service charges and other costs are usually not included. If young people are in work, the amount of housing benefit they receive varies according to their income, as income rises housing benefit reduces. If a young person has an income above a certain level, they will not receive any housing benefit.
Young people who claim benefits such as income support, income-related jobseeker’s allowance or income-related employment and support allowance will receive the maximum amount of housing benefit for their circumstances.
If a young person rents in the private rented sector, the maximum amount of housing benefit they can receive is usually also limited by local housing allowance rules - for more information, see the DWP information on housing benefit and local housing allowance.
Housing benefit rules limit the maximum amount of benefit that can be paid to help with the rent. Age is used as one way of deciding what the maximum rate should be.
If a claimant is aged under 35 and rents from a private landlord, the maximum housing benefit they can receive is the same as the rate they would get for renting a single room in a shared house. This rule is known as the shared accommodation rate and applies to people who make new claims for housing benefit and to those whose claims began after April 2008.
Care leavers are exempt from the shared accommodation rate until they turn 22 (see below.)
Young disabled people are usually also exempt (see below).
Young people can find out what limit applies in their area (or another area) using the LHA calculator.
Parents who have children living with them are allowed to claim housing benefit or local housing allowance for a self-contained private rented home. They will not be restricted to the shared accommodation rate.
However, young people who rent from their local council or a housing association may have their housing benefit reduced if they have more rooms than their local council says they need - for more information, see Shelter’s pages on the bedroom tax.
Couples can claim local housing allowance for a self-contained one-bedroom private rented property. If a young person lives with their partner in shared accommodation, they will only be entitled to the shared accommodation rate.
If a young person has recently left care and is not yet 18 years old, they probably will not be able to claim housing benefit, as they should still be entitled to assistance from children’s services. The shared accommodation rate for a private rented place does not apply to care leavers until their 22nd birthday.
For more information, see the section on care leavers.
Young severely disabled people will not be restricted to the shared accommodation rate for housing benefit if they are under the age of 25, claiming the middle or high rate of disability care allowance or can otherwise prove that they need overnight care.
Advisers for young people may wish to consider advising their clients to apply for a discretionary housing payment - this will not be a long-term solution, and not all applicants are successful in receiving it, but it may help in the short-term.