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Your benefits entitlement, charges and LHA rates

Benefits calculator

You can use our online benefits calculator to help you find out what you could be entitled to. The calculator uses information about your income, savings, pension and existing benefits to check what you may be able to claim. It can tell you how to claim, and how starting work could affect your benefits.

You can find more information about benefits calculators on the government’s website.

Spare room charges (bedroom tax)

The removal of the spare room subsidy is also known as the bedroom tax or under-occupancy charge. It applies to working-age people living in social housing. It does not apply to pensioners.

We calculate your Housing Benefit based on the number of people in your household and the size of your home. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) use the same criteria to work out your Universal Credit.

If you have more bedrooms than you need, your Housing Benefit could be reduced by: 

  • 14% of the eligible rent for one spare bedroom 
  • 25% of the eligible rent for two or more spare bedrooms

Rooms used by students and members of the armed or reserve forces do not count as ‘spare’ if they’re away and intend to return home.

If you have suffered a bereavement in your household within the last 52 weeks, and have not moved house in that time, your eligible rent may be protected.

You can find out more about how many bedrooms you're entitled to on the government's website if you claim Housing Benefit. The rules are different if you claim Universal Credit.

The Citizens Advice website has a calculator for working out how many bedrooms you're entitled to.

You must tell us within one month if your circumstances change. We want to make sure you’re getting the right amount of benefit.  

Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates

If you rent your home privately, you’ll normally receive LHA as your Housing Benefit. Your LHA rate depends on where you live and the size of your home. You can use an online calculator to work out your rates.

  • If your postcode starts with WS or WV, Black Country LHA rates apply to you.
  • If your postcode starts with a B, Birmingham LHA rates apply to you.
LHA weekly rate
Area Shared room 1 bedroom 2 bedrooms 3 bedrooms 4 bedrooms
Birmingham £78.61 £159.95 £172.60 £189.86 £253.15
Black Country £73.64 £113.92 £143.84 £172.60 £212.88
LHA monthly rate
Area Shared room 1 bedroom 2 bedrooms 3 bedrooms 4 bedrooms
Birmingham £341.58 £695.02 £749.99 £824.99 £1100.00
Black Country £319.98 £495.01 £625.02 £749.99 £925.01

Where LHA doesn’t apply

Independent Valuation Office Agency (VOA) rent officers decide how much rent you can get Housing Benefit for if:

  • your rent includes food
  • you live in a boat, mobile home or caravan
  • you live in a hostel or supported exempt accommodation
  • you live in a Rent Act protected property

Rent officers base their decisions on the average rent for a similar property in the area, and the size of a property that’s reasonable for the number of people in your household.

You cannot appeal against the LHA rates or the rent officer's decision.

Non-dependant charges

A non-dependant is a person who:

  • lives with you
  • is over 16
  • is not your partner or dependent child
  • is not liable for paying the rent

For example, an elderly relative or a grown-up child. 

The number of non-dependants in your home and the type of benefits you claim may affect your payments.

You can find out more about non-dependant rules and charges on the entitled to website.

Benefit cap

The benefit cap is a limit to the total amount of benefits you can get. It applies to most people aged 16 or over who have not reached state pension age. If you reach your limit, we will reduce your Housing Benefit.

The limits are:

  • £283.71 per week (£14,753 a year) if you’re a single adult
  • £423.26 per week (£22,020 a year) if you’re in a couple
  • £423.26 per week (£22,020 a year) if you’re a single parent and your children live with you

The limits don't apply to every type of benefit. You can find out more about the benefit cap on the government’s website.

You can also use a benefit cap calculator to work out your reduction.

Work out the appropriate size of your home

You should allow one bedroom for each of the following:

  • each couple
  • each other person aged 16 or over
  • two children under 16 of the same sex
  • any two children under 10
  • each other child

If you are an LHA customer, this is up to a maximum of four bedrooms. This limit does not apply to social housing.

You are allowed an extra bedroom if:

  • you/your partner are an approved foster parent
  • you/your partner or any child or non-dependant needs an overnight carer
  • you and your partner cannot reasonably share a bedroom due to disabilities
  • one of your children cannot share a bedroom with another child due to their disability

You’ll need to meet other conditions too, so contact us to work out if you're entitled to an extra bedroom.

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