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New Arrivals


Who is eligible for housing benefit (HB) and council tax rebate (CTR)?

This page is for new arrivals. If you are a housing adviser please click here for information more relevant to you.

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. In Scotland the Scottish Government sets the rules for all local councils. The rules for CTR in Scotland are very similar to the rules for HB – any differences are described as they arise. 

In Scotland if you are entitled to CTR and your income is low enough the whole of your council tax bill is covered by rebate (unlike many council areas in England and Wales).

Here you will find more information about the law on council tax rebate.

Making a claim for HB/CTR

You must make a claim to qualify for HB/CTR.

To claim HB you must provide the local authority with your national insurance number and also your partner’s number 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.

In Scotland there is no legal requirement to provide a national insurance number to claim CTR.

Claiming HB/CTR if you are a member of a couple

If you are a member of a couple you can 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. However, this does not mean that it is safe to do so in terms of your immigration status (since your partner’s awards counts as public funds). Your local authority may report you to the Home Office but is not obliged to do so.

If you have been granted leave following your application for asylum

If you have been granted refugee status, humanitarian protection or discretionary leave following your application for asylum 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 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, expelled or removed from another country to the UK; or
  • you have been awarded one of the passport benefits: income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income-related employment and support allowance or income support; or
  • (in the case of HB only) you or your partner have been awarded state pension credit.

EEA nationals and EEA family members

If you are an EEA national other than a Croatian, you will be entitled to HB/CTR 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 memberof any of the above
  • you have previously worked in the UK but have since retired
  • you or your partner have been awarded income-related employment and support allowance or income support;
  • you or your partner have been awarded income-based jobseeker’s allowance – but for  HB only you must have been unemployed for less than six months during which time you are treated as a former worker (see third bullet);
  • in the case of HB only, you have been awarded state pension credit; or
  • you qualify as a long-term resident and 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). 

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 unless:

  • you have made your home here (you are ‘habitually resident’); and
  • you have been granted leave from the Home Office and either:
    • you are the separated partner of a British citizen or settled person who you are leaving due to domestic violence;
    • you are a national of Macedonia or Turkey;
    • your leave is not subject to a ‘no public funds’ condition nor was it granted as a result of a maintenance undertaking (sponsorship agreement);
    • it was granted with a no public funds condition or as a result of a sponsorship agreement but you have lived in the UK for five years;
    • or it was granted as a result of a sponsorship agreement but your sponsor (or all of your sponsors if there was more than one) has since died; or
    • you or your partner have been awarded one of the passport benefits: income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income-related employment and support allowance, income support or state pension credit.

You are also entitled to CTR if:

  • you are separated from your partner who is British/settled due to domestic violence;
  • you are a Macedonian or Turkish national;
  • you were granted leave without any conditions (i.e. no public funds /maintenance undertaking); or
  • you or your partner receive income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income-related employment and support allowance or income support.

Background Topics

Chartered Institute of Housing