Benefits & entitlements: frequently asked questions
Can I get help towards my housing costs and does this depend on my choice of tenure?
Whether you choose to rent, buy outright, or buy a share in your new home, if you have a modest income you may be eligible for help with housing costs. Entitlement to some benefits do depend on the tenure you choose, others are available to everyone. Entitlement to most benefits will always depend on your age, level of income, savings and individual circumstances. The questions below give more detail.
Can I get help towards the cost of buying a property?
Yes, if you qualify for Pension (guarantee) Credit* you may get the interest on any mortgage or loan payments. You may also get any ground rent paid. There is a limit of £200,000 on the loan and there may be a waiting period before you can claim. There is no help towards the capital repayments.
These conditions apply to either purchasing outright or a percentage share.
*You or your partner must have reached current state pension credit age. Anyone below this age may claim similar help through Income Support or Universal Credit.
Can I get help towards on-going service charge costs?
Yes, if you qualify for Pension (guarantee) Credit or Income Support and purchase outright, you may get your eligible service charges paid. Not all service charges are eligible, such as any water rates, heating costs for the property itself, and meal charges. These are just examples, there may be others.
What help is available if I want to rent all or part of a property?
Housing Benefit may be claimed by anyone paying rent and service charges for their home. If you only purchase a share in a property and rent the rest, eligible service charges will be met by Housing Benefit rather than Pension (guarantee) Credit. You may also get some Housing Benefit towards meal charges.
What if I have an existing property to sell?
If you rent a property from Hanover before you have sold your former home you may still be eligible for Housing Benefit to help pay the rent and service charges. Your individual circumstances must mean that you would qualify on a means tested basis without counting your former home, and benefit can be paid for up to 6 months* before the situation is reviewed.
Housing Benefit will usually stop as soon as you receive the capital from sale.
This can also apply if you wish to sell your existing home, but cannot afford to buy all or part of a new Hanover property until it is sold. If you rent it in the meantime you may still be eligible for help.
* This time limit may depend upon how long your property has already been on the market, and your property has to be being actively marketed to qualify.
What if I sell my current home and have surplus capital after renting or buying into a new Hanover property?
There is no upper limit for capital when claiming Pension Credit. Any amount over £10000 will be taken into account when calculating entitlement, but if your income is modest you may have quite a lot of savings and still qualify.
Unless you qualify for Pension (guarantee) Credit, you will not be able to claim Housing or Council Tax Reduction if you have over £16,000.
Can I spend my savings or capital and then claim benefits?
Usually no. There are very clear rules on depriving yourself of capital, savings or other assets in order to claim benefits. Even if you dispose of money for a good reason, you may still be treated as though you had done so deliberately.
You can reduce savings over time through daily living, or reasonable spending on a holiday, car, furniture etc. You may be asked to prove what you spent your savings on.
If I only want to purchase part of a property, will this affect the benefits I can claim?
It might do. If you qualify, you can claim Pension Credit towards your loan, and/or Housing Benefit towards the rented part and the service charges. You may have to explain why you chose to purchase a particular share in your home and receiving any benefits may still depend on how you have chosen to use your savings or capital – even if you have not deliberately deprived yourself of this or spent it quickly. You may need to seek specialist advice.
Is there any other help available?
Yes. For all tenures you may be entitled to:
- Council Tax Reduction towards your council tax bill. Each local council has it’s own scheme, so entitlement may vary
- Pension (guarantee) Credit if you have a modest income and savings
- Support costs – any support charge within your service charge is never eligible for Pension Credit or Housing Benefit. Instead help may be available via a separate Social Services fairer charging assessment. This is still means tested, but uses different criteria
- Attendance Allowance or Personal Independence Payments – these tax free benefits do not depend on income or savings. You just need to meet the qualifying criteria if you are disabled and need help with personal care or mobility needs
- Carers Allowance – if you are caring regularly for someone getting either of the disability benefits above
- Winter fuel payments – for anyone over minimum state retirement age.
- Concessionary television licence – this is not available everywhere and may depend upon your age and the estate you live on
Where can I get further information?
Please ask the estate manager, or contact our Financial Rights Team on 0800 023 4477 (calls are free from landlines but you may be charged if you call from a mobile, depending on your call plan) or 01480 224 753. We can assist with how to get a full benefit check; how to make a claim for any means tested or disability benefits; and we can also direct you to more specialist help.
You should seek specialist advice before agreeing to any loan for which you expect to get help, especially if you think that you will be unable to afford your home without help from benefits.