- What is housing benefit (HB)?
- What is council tax rebate (CTR)?
- Making a claim for HB/CTR
- Claiming HB/CTR if you are a member of a couple
- If you have been granted leave as a refugee or for other humanitarian reasons or you have been evacuated
- If you receive a 'passport' benefit (UK, Ireland and EEA citizens)
- If you are a British or Irish citizen or you have settled status
- EEA nationals and EEA family members
- All other people from outside the EEA
What is housing benefit (HB)?
Housing benefit is a cash social security benefit to help you pay your rent if have a low income. To qualify for housing benefit you must make a valid claim and be an eligible person. The rules about who is eligible vary according to whether you are British, a national of an EEA member state or from outside the EEA.
Here you will find more information about the law on housing benefit.
What is council tax rebate (CTR)?
All householders (whether owners or tenants) pay council tax to their local councils, based on the property value. The rules about who is eligible to get help towards paying their council tax through CTR are similar to the rules for HB even though they are entirely separate schemes. Any differences to HB are described as they arise.
In England and Wales your local council can set its own CTR scheme rules. However, this power only relates to how your financial resources (i.e. income and savings) and maximum rebate are assessed. Your council is not allowed to make any other local scheme rules that exclude you from CTR based on your immigration status or nationality – such as a local residency qualification. Any local rules that do this are unlawful and can be challenged in the courts (Winder v Sandwell MBC  EWHC (Admin) 2617). The law about migrant eligibility for CTR is set by national regulations (known as the ‘prescribed requirements’) which are similar to the HB rules and your local council must comply with them: here is more information.
Making a claim for HB/CTR
You must make a claim to qualify for HB/CTR. To complete your claim you must provide the local authority with your national insurance number and your partner’s if you are a member of a couple. If you do not have one you must have applied for one and provide the authority with evidence that you have done this.
Claiming HB/CTR if you are a member of a couple
If you are a member of a couple you are only be excluded from HB/CTR if both you and your partner are ineligible (e.g. if both you and your partner have leave to remain with no recourse to public funds). If only one of you is ineligible then the other (eligible) member should make the claim.
If you have been granted leave as a refugee or for humanitarian reasons or you have been evacuated
If you have been granted refugee status, humanitarian protection or discretionary leave you are entitled to HB/CTR from the date you receive the letter that confirms you have been granted leave (unless, unusually, your leave has a 'no public funds' condition).
If you have entered the UK as part of an evacuation programme organised by the UK government in response to a humanitarian crisis (war, famine natural disaster) you also qualify for HB/CTR provided you have made your home here (you are ‘habitually resident’).
If you receive a 'passport' benefit (UK, Ireland and EEA citizens)
If you are a citizen of any EEA state you are entitled to HB and CTR if you have been awarded one of the following ‘passport’ benefits:
- income-based jobseeker’s allowance (IBJSA): but this does not apply to HB if you have entered the UK seeking work - you must fall into one of the next two categories on this page (British/Irish or EEA nationals and family members)
- income-related employment and support allowance
- income support
- state pension credit.
This rule applies to all nationals of EEA states including citizens of the UK, Republic of Ireland, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Romania. If you have entered the UK looking for work, whether or not you have been awarded income-based jobseeker’s allowance, you may still be able to get HB if you are habitually resident - but you may need to seek specialist legal advice.
If you are a British or Irish citizen or you have settled status
If you are a British Citizen, Irish Citizen, a citizen of a Commonwealth country with ‘right of abode’ in the UK or have been granted indefinite leave to remain (also known as ‘settled status’) you are entitled to HB/CTR if:
- you have made your home here (you are ‘habitually resident’); or
- you have been deported from another country to the UK.
EEA nationals and EEA family members
If you are an EEA national other than a Croatian, you will be entitled to HB if:
- You are in self-employment in the UK (including if you are self-employed but temporarily unable to work due to sickness)
- You are an EEA worker
- You are a former EEA worker who is temporarily unable to work (e.g. unemployed or off sick)
- You are a EEA family member of any of the above
- You have previously worked in the UK but have since retired
- You have lived in the UK for five years and have acquired a permanent right of residence.
You are also entitled to CTR if any of the above apply provided that you can also show that you have made your home here (you are ‘habitually resident’).
In any other case you are only entitled to HB/CTR if you are habitually resident and you have some other right to reside (see other EEA nationals and EEA family members for details). If you have entered the UK looking for work see the section on passport benefits above.
All other people from outside the EEA
If you are a citizen of a country outside the EEA you are not normally entitled to HB/CTR unless:
- you have made your home here (you are ‘habitually resident’); and
- you have been granted leave that is not subject to a ‘no public funds condition’ or a maintenance undertaking.
However there are two exceptions to the above rule. You are entitled to HB and CTR if:
- You are a national of Macedonia or Turkey; and either
- you have leave (of any kind, including leave with a ‘no public funds’ condition or granted as a result of a maintenance undertaking); or
- you are an EEA family member.
You are entitled to HB but not CTR if:
- You have been granted leave as result of your sponsor signing a maintenance undertaking and either
- you have lived in the UK for five years or more; or
- your sponsor (or all of your sponsors if there was more than one) has/have since died.
In either of these cases you also have to show you have made your home here (you are 'habitually resident') although in practice the authority will normally accept that you are.
Note that the right to temporary support if your funds from home were disrupted was abolished from 29th October 2013.