Reduced housing benefit and council tax support entitlement

You may not be entitled to have all of your rent or Council Tax paid for by Housing Benefit (HB) or Council Tax Support (CTS). This could be for a number of reasons. The rules for HB are set by the government and the law tells Harrow Council how much it can pay you. The rules for CTS are set by the council for those of working age and by the government for applicants of state pension credit age.

How much HB and/or CTS you can get depends on lots of things including how much money you have coming into your household, who lives with you and how much rent the law says is reasonable.  Some common reasons for why HB does not cover all of the rent given below.

Rent is above allowable rates (if renting from a private landlord)

Housing Benefit for private rented properties cannot be paid above the Local Housing Allowance for your household size.  Local Housing Allowance, known as LHA, is set by the Valuation Office and cannot be changed by the Council.  See the LHA rates. Here is an example of how LHA works:

A family of two adults and two boys aged between 13 and 15 claim Housing Benefit.

The rent for their home is £1,200.00 a month.

They are entitled to a two bedroom property under Housing Benefit rules.

The LHA rate in Harrow for a two bedroom property is £1,114.06 a month.

The most Housing Benefit they could receive is £1,114.06 a month. It would not cover the difference of £85.94 a month. Housing Benefit could be less than £1,114.06 depending on the circumstances of the household.

Rent is above allowable rates (if renting from a housing association or a council property)

If you live in a housing association or council owned property you could have your rent restricted because you are under-accommodated. If you have more rooms than you are entitled to for Housing Benefit purposes your benefit will be reduced by the following amounts:

  • 1 extra room Housing Benefit is reduced by 14%
  • 2 or more extra rooms Housing Benefit is reduced by 25%

Further detail can be found at our Social Sector Size Criteria pages.

You are affected by the Benefit Cap

The benefit cap is a limit to the total amount of income a household can receive in certain benefits. If the amount that you receive in benefits is above the Benefit Cap, your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit will be reduced until your combined benefits are within the benefit cap limits.

Our benefit cap pages give further information about this.

To see if you might be affected, you can use the benefit cap calculator.


If your income is above a certain level then you won’t be able to get full Housing Benefit (HB) or Council Tax Support (CTS).  If your income changes a lot, for example because you work different hours each week, then we will work out an average.  National insurance, tax and half of any pension contributions are taken out of your gross earnings to get a net amount.

Other adults in your household:  Non-dependants

If you have adults living in your household other than your partner, or children who you still get child benefit for, your HB and/or CTS may be reduced.  This is called a non-dependant deduction.  The amount your benefit will be reduced by depends on lots of things such as what the other adults’ income is and whether you or your partner receive certain disability benefits.  To see the amount of income we have taken for other adults in your household go to My Harrow Account

Understanding your entitlement letter

We have pages to help you understand your entitlement letter.

To understand how your HB and or CTS has been worked out and to see the information we hold for you sign in to your My Harrow Account

If you think we have assessed your benefit incorrectly then you can dispute the decision.  

Additional support

If you think we have worked out your benefit correctly but you are still struggling to pay the difference between your rent and your HB, you can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP).  DHP is paid in exceptional circumstances to help people, normally for a few weeks or months.  For more information go to our DHP pages.

Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support Office

Civic Centre