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National Homeless Advice Service

Housing benefit and universal credit rules for young people

A young person’s age will affect their claim for housing benefit or the housing costs element of universal credit.

Housing benefit and universal credit

Housing benefit and the housing costs element of universal credit can help people on low incomes or benefits to pay their rent. These benefits do not always cover all housing costs - service charges and other costs are usually not included. If young people are in work, the amount of benefit they receive varies according to their income. If a young person has an income above a certain level, they will not receive any benefit.

If a young person rents in the private rented sector, the maximum amount of benefit they can receive to help them pay the rent is usually limited by local housing allowance rules.

For more information, see Shelter’s housing advice: Benefits

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Why does a young person’s age matter?

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.

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The shared accommodation rate and bedroom tax

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. Certain claimants are exempt from the shared accommodation rate:

  • care leavers until they turn 22 (see below.)
  • young disabled people if they are receiving certain disability benefits
  • parents who have children living with them
  • young people who are in a couple, as long as they are not already living in shared accommodation.

Young people can find out what limit applies in their area (or another area) using the LHA calculator.

Young people who rent from their local council or a housing association may have their 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.

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Young care leavers

If a young person has recently left care and is not yet 18 years old, they should 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 care leavers.

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Advising young people

Advisers for young people may wish to consider advising their clients to apply for a discretionary housing payment if the amount of benefit a young person is receiving does not meet their housing costs - 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.

Gov.uk - Discretionary Housing Payments

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