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How to claim Housing Benefit when you are self-employed

Updated: 19 Apr 2014
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Housing Benefit rules are different from tax rules
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There are specific Housing Benefit rules that apply if you are self employed. This is an overview of those rules - if you require more detailed information about your own circumstances please call us on 03448 920 902.

Can I get Housing Benefit if I am self-employed?

Yes, anyone with a low income may be able to get Housing Benefit subject to the conditions being met. The amount of any Housing Benefit payable would depend on your self-employed earnings, and any other earnings and benefits that you receive. Your family circumstances and the amount you have to pay to your landlord may also affect any possible entitlement to Housing Benefit.

How will you calculate my self-employed earnings?

We will base this on the net profit of the business over a specified trading period. This will reflect the flow of cash into and out of the business.

I have only started my business - what will you do?

We will ask you to provide us with an estimate of your likely earnings and make an award of Housing Benefit for a temporary period. At the end of this temporary period we will expect you to provide actual figures to allow us to calculate the net profit.

I have business expenses; will these be taken into account in deciding my net profit?

Yes, some expenses can be allowed, the main ones are:
  • Running costs (business costs for rent, electricity and heating etc)
  • Interest payable on a loan
  • Excess of VAT paid over VAT received
  • Proven bad debts
However, some business expenses are not allowable, these include:
  • Depreciation
  • Drawings (that you make from the business)
  • Business entertainment
  • Business trips or promotional events
  • Repayments of capital

Will you make any allowance for things like Tax and National Insurance?

Yes, if the net profit from the business is high enough we will deduct from your net profit any Tax or National Insurance contributions you are due to pay. If you make any qualifying pension contributions we will also allow half of these.

How do I apply for Housing Benefit?

You will need to complete a Housing Benefit application form which can be obtained at any Housing Executive District Office or downloaded here:
When completed the form should be returned as soon as possible to your local Housing Benefit office.

Will you need any other information relating to my self-employed earnings?

Yes, in order to verify your self-employed earnings the Housing Executive will ask to see your latest certified accounts. Alternatively we may ask you to complete a special form giving details of the income and outgoings from the business. This is known as an SE1 form.

Will I have to get certified accounts to claim Housing Benefit?

Not necessarily, if you have been in business for less than a year or your gross profit is small we will not insist on certified accounts. We do, however, reserve the right to ask for sufficient, alternative, information to allow us to calculate your self-employed earnings.

Can you not just take my most recent tax assessment as proof of income?

No, Housing Benefit rules are different from tax rules so it would not be safe to do so. Similarly we cannot base your income on the amount used in a Working Tax Credit assessment.