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Housing Benefit (HB) and the Local Housing Allowance (LHA)

Housing Benefit (HB) and the Local Housing Allowance (LHA)

HB and the LHA helps pay rent for people who are on a low income. It is paid by Local Authorities and it is means tested. HB can help pay rent in housing association or local authority accommodation, but not if you live with your parents. The LHA can help pay rent in private accommodation and can also help pay rent for University owned residences.

As a full time student you will only be able to make a new claim for HB/LHA on grounds of disability or ongoing ill health if you are either:

    • in receipt of ESA (IR), or
    • you are assessed as having ‘limited capability for work’ for the past 196 days under the ESA rules, even if you are not getting ESA because you do not get PIP contact a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service about how you get assessed via this route as it is not straightforward, or
    • you qualify for the disability premium because

you are getting DLA or PIP

or  you are registered blind

or  you are a deaf student in receipt of DSA

or  you are waiting to go back to your course after recovering from illness (max 12 months)

or  you are a part time student


How do I claim HB/LHA?

If you are claiming other benefits such as ESA, you can contact Jobcentre Plus to apply for HB/LHA along with your ESA. If not, complete form HCTB1 which you can get online or from your Local Authority. You may be able to claim HB/LHA by phone if your local authority has published a phone number for this. Your claim will be started from the date you make this phone call, if you return the completed form within one month.

You do not normally need to complete the Council Tax Reduction claim form that comes with the HB/LHA claim form because you should be exempt from Council Tax as you are a full-time student. At the start of each academic year you should give your Council Tax office an exemption certificate from The Student Enquiry Centre, ground floor Queen’s Building, Mile End campus or from the Student Office at Whitechapel. Postgraduate research students should contact the Research Degrees Office, Queens Building room E15. Read the Advice and Counselling Service’s Council Tax advice guide for more information:


Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP)

If you feel that you cannot afford to pay the difference between your HB and your actual rent, you can apply for a DHP to top up your HB. To make a claim you need to contact your local authority to ask how they want you to do this (it is done separately from your HB claim). It is at the discretion of the local authority whether to award you a DHP. It can be very difficult to get a DHP - if you contact a Welfare Adviser they can advise you about applying.

You can also get information about DHPs on the Shelter website:


More information


Law, regulations and policies can change quickly. The information on our website is given in good faith and has been carefully checked but QMUL cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions. QMUL is not responsible for the content or reliability of the linked websites which are provided for further information.

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