Housing - Financial Help

Here you can find information on financial help for housing. It covers: 

  • What financial help there is available

  • Who provides it

  • How to get it

Get started below.

Housing Benefit (if in ‘exempt’ accommodation) 


Housing Benefit has largely been replaced with Universal Credit (housing costs) for anyone making a new claim for benefits.


However, those people who are living in accommodation provided by a local authority, or a registered social housing provider, where they either receive support, or were placed there temporarily to prevent or relieve homelessness, are unable to claim housing costs under Universal Credit. These tenants can continue to claim Housing Benefit for their rent costs, whilst claiming Universal Credit for their living costs. 


Housing Benefit is administered by the local District Council and can be claimed independently of any other benefit. It is available to help people on a low income to pay their rent. 


Where someone is renting from a registered social landlord, Housing Benefit can cover up to all of the ‘eligible’ rent, it will not pay for utility costs or services that are included in the rent, such as electric, gas, water or meals, these are ‘ineligible’ items. 


Universal Credit


Tenants that are not living in ‘exempt’ accommodation can claim Universal Credit (housing costs) for their rent, which will be paid in the same claim as their Universal Credit for living costs. 


If a tenant is renting from a registered social landlord, Universal Credit housing costs can pay up to all of their eligible rent, but not anything that is included in the rent for ‘ineligible items’ such as electric, gas, water and meals. 

You can learn more about Universal Credit in our guide. 


Will I get all the rent paid?


If a tenant is renting from a registered social landlord, UC housing costs can pay up to all of their eligible rent, but not anything that is included in the rent for ‘ineligible items’ such as electric, gas, water and meals. If the tenant is ‘under-occupied’ (they have spare bedrooms) they could lose 14% of their UC housing costs for one spare bedroom, and 25% if they have 2 or more spare bedrooms. This is sometimes referred to as the ‘Bedroom Tax’.


If someone is renting from a private landlord, then Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates apply. The maximum amount that can be claimed is restricted to the LHA rate for a particular property size and geographical area. LHA rates are available online at www.lha-direct.voa.gov.uk


Young people leaving care have special rules that apply to them in the calculation of the maximum Local Housing Allowance rate that applies to their claim. The rate of Local Housing Allowance that normally applies to single people aged under 35 years is the shared room rate.


However, care leavers are eligible to the rate for a 1- bedroom self-contained property. This is because the single room rent restriction that applies to most single people aged under 35 years old does not apply to care, leavers, until they are 22 years old.


In March 2020 the Government announced that this would be increasing to 25 years old, the effective date of this change is October 2023. 


So, because of this rule, even if the young person is living in lodgings or shared accommodation the maximum amount of rent that their Local Housing Allowance will cover is that of a self-contained 1-bedroom property. 


You need to be aware that you may not get your full rent paid if it is more than set in the LHA.


Local Council - Discretionary Housing Payment


Every year your council is given a pot of money to help people who need extra help with housing costs. You may be able to apply for this top up payment if you are getting the housing costs element of Universal Credit or Housing Benefit.

The council decides who should be given what they call a ‘Discretionary Housing Payment’.

Local Council - Council Tax


Young people who are aged under 18 years old are not liable to pay Council Tax. They are also ignored if living in someone else’s household, so will not affect the Council Tax Bill. Once they reach 18 years old, however, they do become liable to register for and pay Council Tax if they have their own tenancy. 


They could also affect the discounts or benefits of the Council Tax payer, where they are living in someone else’s household. 


From April 2020 young people leaving care, who were previously looked after by Essex County Council will be exempt from paying Council Tax between the ages of 18 to 21 years old if they are living in the following District Council areas: 


  • Basildon 

  • Braintree 

  • Brentwood 

  • Castle Point 

  • Chelmsford 

  • Colchester 

  • Epping Forest 

  • Harlow 

  • Maldon 

  • Rochford 

  • Tendring 

  • Uttlesford 


In addition, if they are living in someone else’s household, their presence will not result in the householder having to pay more Council Tax. These young people will need to inform the District Council that they are a care leaver and claim any council tax discounts that they are entitled to, such as Council Tax Support, Single Person Discount, or Student Exemption.


The young person’s Personal Adviser can confirm their care leaver status with the Council Tax Department, in order for the exemption to be processed. 


You will have to pay council tax when you live independently, you may be entitled to apply for various discounts or reductions:


  • Single Person Discount - if you live on your own you can apply to get a single person discount 

  • Care leaver discretionary reduction

  • Student exemption

Local Council - additional funding/help from Leaving and After Care  


Usually when you rent a place to live you need to pay a deposit and also rent in advance.  If you do not have this money your personal adviser may be able to help you access this money from the leaving and aftercare service.


Sometimes when you rent a place the landlord asks for a rent guarantor.  This means that if you fail to pay your rent the rent guarantor will pay if for you.  If you do not have a rent guarantor then the Leaving and After Care service may be able to act as your guarantor. There are certain conditions that you need to satisfy to get this help.


Local Council - Setting up a home grant


Leaving and After Care have a duty to provide eligible, relevant and former relevant young people a Setting Up Home Grant when they leave care and move into independent or semi-independent accommodation. This grant will be based on the young person’s assessed needs, taking into account the items that are already available to them, and those that are included with their accommodation. The maximum amount of the grant is £2000. 


The young person will be able to help to choose the essential items that they need within this overall budget. These will include:  


  • Essential items of furniture (eg bed, sofa, wardrobe),  

  • Essential items of furnishings (eg bedding, towels, curtains),  

  • Carpets or floor coverings,  

  • Kitchen appliances, such as a fridge, cooker and washing machine, and the installation of appliances as necessary,  

  • Kitchen equipment (eg pans, cutlery, utensils, crockery),  

  • Contents insurance,  

  • Television,  

  • A television licence,  

  • Cleaning products / decorating materials if required (formerly known as the ‘settling in allowance’)

  • Removal costs