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Housing Benefit

If you are on a low income, you may be entitled to a reduction in the amount that you pay in rent.
For most people this help would come from making a claim for Universal Credit.
However, we may be able to help you pay towards your rent if you are either:

  • Living in supported or temporary accommodation


  • Of pension age (If you are part of a couple and one of you is pension age, please contact us for advice on what to claim as it will depend on your circumstances)

How Much Benefit Can I Receive?

The amount of any benefit you receive will depend on factors such as your income and savings, your age, the size of your household, whether any household members are disabled and the amount of rent that you pay.

If you receive Income Support, Income Based Jobseekers Allowance, Income Based Employment Support Allowance or the guaranteed element of Pension Credit, you may be eligible for the maximum amount of housing benefit. If you don’t receive any of these benefits, but have low earnings, you might still qualify for some housing benefit. But usually, your savings must be less than £16,000.

If you are married, or live together as husband and wife, you will be assessed on your joint income.

You can get an estimate of the benefits, tax credits or pension that may be available by visiting the government's GOV.UK website from the 'Related Sites' section of this page.

Universal Credit

For people of working age, Housing Benefit is being phased out and replaced with Universal Credit. Since September 2018 if you are of working age you can no longer make a new claim for Housing Benefit and will have to claim Universal Credit instead, which will include an element towards any housing costs (rent) that you are due to pay.

If you already receive Housing Benefit and are of working age you will eventually migrate to Universal Credit. 

There will be a small number of people who will claim Universal Credit but will continue to receive Housing Benefit rather than receiving a housing cost element in their Universal Credit award.

For more information, please see the 'Related Links' section of this page under Welfare Reform.

Removal of spare room subsidy (bedroom tax)

There are reductions in the amount of Housing Benefit that can be paid for working age people, renting from the Council or Orkney Housing Association Limited, who are assessed as having more bedrooms than necessary for their household. This may be referred to as the removal of spare room subsidy but is also commonly called the bedroom tax or benefit under-occupancy. If you are considered to be under-occupying the property, the amount of Housing Benefit may be reduced by:

  • 14% for under-occupying by one bedroom.
  • 25% for under-occupying by 2 bedrooms or more.

If you are affected by the 'bedroom tax' and have a reduction in your Housing Benefit award or housing element of Universal Credit you can apply to the Council for a Discretionary Housing Payment. The Scottish Government provides the Council with funding to ensure that anyone that has a reduction in their benefit payment as a result of the bedroom tax will be entitled to claim and receive Discretionary Housing Payments.

More information on the bedroom tax please see the Related Links section of this page under Housing Benefit Under Occupancy.

Benefit Cap

There is a limit on the total amount of benefit that working age people can receive. It applies to the combined income from the main out-of-work benefits, plus Housing Benefit, Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit. For more information on the Benefit Cap please see the Related Links section of this page under Welfare Reform.

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