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Are Immigrant Carers Entitled to Housing Benefit?

By: Sarah O'Hara BA (hons) - Updated: 14 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
 
Housing Benefit Local Housing Allowance

Q.

I am assisting a disabled friend find accommodation in the private rental sector. My question relates to housing allowance. He is on the highest rate of DLA and long term IB. He has a voluntary carer who lives in but because of his immigration restrictions is not elligible to claim carers allowance nor to work or claim any benefits. This carer lives in rent free and when he goes away I or another friend will live with the person as he needs care available day and night as he cannot get out of bed unaided.

His carer is a much younger male and there is no relationship so the carer (or I, when I stay there) need a bedroom to sleep in.

Should he be able to claim housing allowance on the basis of needing two bedroomed accommodation as he could not continue to live independently without someone staying there?

(Mr Clive Richards, 13 September 2008)

A.

You should contact your Local Authority to find out your friend’s exact eligibility in these circumstances.

However, it is very possible that your disabled friend will be eligible to receive Housing Benefit or Local Housing Allowance to help pay for his rented accommodation. Local Housing Allowance is for tenants who rent from a private landlord, and Housing Benefit is for council tenants.

Housing benefit is not based on the number of rooms a house has, so much as how much the rent costs. Therefore, if your friend rents from the council they could be eligible for some or all of the cost of renting, based on ‘eligible rent’ (see below). Many disabled people have most or all of their rent paid by Housing Benefit, including a second bedroom for a carer.

However, Local Housing Allowance is partly based on the number of bedrooms a home has and applicants can work out their provisional 'bedroom entitlement' on the LHA website. Strictly speaking, at the moment no provision has been made for disabled people who require a second bedroom for their carer and they are only eligible for one bedroom. However, Local Authorities may look at individual cases and make discretionary payments so that a disabled person can afford to pay for the extra room for their carer. Many disability charities advise asking the Local Authority about this.

Housing Benefit Assessment

Housing Benefit is means-tested which means that an applicant’s income and capital are taken into account. If applicants have capital (including savings and property) above £16,000 they are not entitled to Housing Benefit. Similarly if they have capital of £6,000 or more this will affect the amount of Housing Benefit they are entitled to.

Housing Benefit Entitlement

The actual amount of Housing Benefit depends on the rent an applicant pays, the income they have coming in and where they live.

Housing Benefit covers what is known as ‘eligible rent’. Eligible rent covers:

  • Accommodation rental costs
  • Some service charges.

It does not cover:

  • Utilities such as water and electricity
  • Food or fuel prices.

When assessing someone for Housing Benefit, the council will also look at individual circumstances, including disability, so this will be key for your friend’s situation. The Local Authority will assess what is a 'reasonable' amount of rent to pay and this will vary throughout councils.

Local Housing Allowance

Local Housing Allowance is based on a system that aims to ensure that people in similar circumstances receive a comparable amount of help with housing costs.

The Local Housing Rates Allowances are calculated monthly for individual areas. These are known as Broad Market Rental Areas. The LHA figures are based on median rental rates in the area.

If your claimants' is lower than the LHA rate they can keep the difference up to £15 per week. If it’s higher the claimant must pay the difference or look for alternative accommodation.

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