Published: 17 Nov 2021  |  Category: Welfare benefits  |  Stage: We are writing our application

Making benefits calculations

Think through the likely benefits available to the families you will support

Both for the sake of your Group and the family you will support, it is important to ensure that the property you find will be financially viable – that the family will be able to pay their rent and the Group won’t have to contribute beyond expected and agreed top up.

We developed this resource to help Groups think through the benefit entitlement for the households mentioned above and to highlight some of the key points to consider when assessing whether a cost of particular property will be sustainable in the long run.

When thinking about multigenerational families, do keep in mind your perceptions of a grandparent and how this might culturally be quite different from the family you support.  In the UK, working age lasts until 66 after which time Pension Credit would be available. Grandparents should be classed as a non-dependent adult. 

And just a reminder – there are many benefit calculators available online, we recommend the one developed by Policy in Practice.

  • 1 bedroom property Your Group may be asked to support a single person. A person under 35 years old will only be entitled to ‘shared accommodation’ local housing allowance rate. You can check how much this would be in your area using the Local Housing Allowance Calculator and read more about welfare benefit rules for people under 35 here. In most, if not all, areas, shared accommodation rate will be far from how much it costs to rent a one bedroom property, or even a studio as the accommodation must still fulfil the sponsor obligations from the Home Office.  If you are allocated a single person under 35 you may decide that this is not financially viable, otherwise you may also decide to cover part of the rent through top-up payments while you support the person to start employment as soon as possible.
  • 2 bedroom property  A standard calculation for a family with 2 children, for example aged 2 and 11 will still work best. Depending on the price of housing in your area the family may be affected by the benefit cap. If it looks like that will be the case you can think about the ways in which you can approach it.
  • 3 bedroom property  There is a variety of combinations here. It may be worth checking how affordable the property would be for a family with 3 children, let’s say ages 11, 13 and 19. The 19 year old would have to make their own, separate, Universal Credit claim. Each adult or couple that makes a separate Universal Credit claim is considered a separate household for the purpose of the benefit cap. This means that the 19-year-old’s benefits won’t be counted towards the family’s benefit cap, therefore making it more affordable for the family of such composition to live in that property.
  • 4 bedroom property  It is likely that you will be welcoming a multigenerational family. It may be worth doing a calculation for one grandparent, a couple and their 3 children aged 3, 6 and 11. As above, the benefits of the grandparent would be counted towards benefit cap separately, they can also be allocated part of the rent costs, which will be covered through their Universal Credit. Properties with 4 or more bedrooms may be very difficult to come by, but once you have found it, they may not be as unaffordable as it initially seems.

Navigating benefit calculations can be difficult at the best of times! If at any point you feel you may need help with this, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us!

Finally, while the Home Office asks Groups to find properties of those specific sizes – primarily 1 bedroom flats, any size property which is accessible for those with mobility needs and properties with 4 or more bedrooms  they will continue to allocate families of all the different sizes – which means that you can definitely still welcome a family if, in your area, it is impossible to find affordable properties of those sizes.