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Housing Benefit advice for lone parents

Updated: 22 Apr 2014
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Childcare costs will be deducted from your income
Family playing together
There are specific Housing Benefit rules that apply if you are a lone parent. This is an overview of those rules - if you require more detailed information about your own circumstances please call us on 03448 920 902.

How will being a lone parent affect my Housing Benefit?

In general, claims for Housing Benefit from lone parents are not treated any differently from other claims. This is particularly so if you are receiving Income Support or Income Based Job Seekers Allowance or Employment Support Allowance (Income Related). There are, however, important differences if you are working or receiving other income.

I am working, will all my earnings be taken into account?

No, as with all claims we will disregard any tax, National Insurance and half of any pension contributions you pay. If you are a lone parent we will also disregard the first £25 of your earnings.
Additionally, if you are working more than 16 hours per week we will disregard a further £17.10

I pay child care costs, can these be allowed?

Currently we can disregard up to £175 per week if you have one child or £300 per week if you have two or more children.
The disregard can be applied to all children until the first Monday in September after their 15th birthday or if your child has a disability, childcare costs can be taken into account until the first Monday in September after their 16th birthday.
To qualify for this disregard you must be working 16 hours or more per week and also be making your childcare payments to a registered childminder, day nursery or play scheme, or to a childminding scheme for which no registration is required (one that is run by a school, local authority or in a “Crown” property.)
Similarly someone (a friend for example) can care for your child in the child’s own home but NOT if that person is a relative of the child (parent, daughter, son, sister brother, most “in laws”, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew for example all count as relatives).
There are other specified groups who can provide this care - please contact us if you require any further information on this.
In certain circumstances you may qualify for a child care disregard while receiving Statutory Maternity Pay, Paternity or Adoption Pay or Maternity Allowance)

I also receive maintenance from my child’s father; will this be taken into account?

We will ignore any maintenance payments that are paid to you in respect of your child (or children).
We will also disregard up to £15 per week of any maintenance that you receive from a former partner providing you are responsible for a child or young person.

I am thinking of starting work, is any help available to me?

In certain circumstances you may qualify for an Extended Payment of Housing Benefit.
This would be where you commence employment or self employment (or increase the number of hours that you work) and that work is expected to last for 5 weeks or more. Where this happens we will allow you the same award of Housing Benefit during the first 4 weeks of your new employment that you were receiving before you started that employment (or increased the number of hours you were working).
To qualify for an Extended Payment you must have been receiving “out of work related benefits” continuously for 26 weeks or more and those benefits end because you start employment or self employment or increase the number of hours of employment.
You do not have to make an application for an extended payment of Housing Benefit. We will award an extended payment to you automatically if you are entitled to it.
Please contact us if you require any further information on Extended Payments.

I will be receiving Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, is this taken into account?

Yes, this is taken into account like most other incomes and you must tell the Housing Executive how much you receive, the date it is due to end, the date you were notified of the award and details of any changes in the award.
(Child Tax Credit is ignored for people of pension age)

My landlord is my child’s father - can I get Housing Benefit?

No, the law prevents the Housing Executive from paying Housing Benefit in these circumstances.

My landlord is not my child’s father but we previously lived as partners in the property I am now renting. Can I get Housing Benefit?

No, if you and the landlord lived as partners in the same property you are now renting the law prevents the Housing Executive from paying Housing Benefit. It is not relevant that your former partner is not your child’s father.

But this house is near my child’s school - are there no exceptions?

The law does not allow any discretion in these circumstances.

I am still joint owner of the former marital home; will you treat me as possessing capital?

Not for the first 26 weeks after you moved out of the former marital home. If you are then making genuine efforts to sell that home, or are involved in divorce proceedings etc. we may be able to ignore the capital value of that property for a longer period.

What will happen when my youngest child leaves school?

You will cease to be classed as a lone parent and your Housing Benefit will have to be recalculated. Depending on your income and circumstances this is likely to mean that you will get less Housing Benefit and will have to pay more rent.
Remember, you must always tell the Housing Executive if you start work even if you have already told the Social Security Agency.