How having a partner affects your benefit

The amount of Housing Benefit you get depends on your circumstances. Housing Benefit is to help you pay your rent if you have a low income. The amount of help you get depends partly on how much income and savings you and your partner have. This is why we ask you so many detailed questions about your income and savings. It's also why we ask you to provide evidence of what you tell us about your income and savings. If your circumstances change you should tell us immediately.

Report a change in your circumstances

It is very important you tell us if any of your circumstances change so that you are paid the correct amount and we avoid overpaying you, as you will be expected to repay overpaid benefits. You will need to have ready:

  • Your Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction reference number. These are 9 digit numbers beginning with 500, e.g. 500123456
  • Your National Insurance number

Report a change in your circumstances

If you have a partner, you must claim as a couple. We count your partner's income and savings, as well as yours, when we work out your benefit. If one member of a couple is claiming from us, the other member can't claim the same benefit for the same period of time. Partners can choose who claims.

By 'partner' we mean:

  • Someone you're married to (including, from March 2014, someone of the same sex who you're married to)
  • A civil partner
  • Someone you live with as if you are married to them or
  • Someone you live with as if you are civil partners

A civil partnership is a formal arrangement that gives same-sex partners the same legal status as a married couple. Occasionally we refer to 'your husband, wife or civil partner' instead of 'your partner'. In that case we mean someone who you are married to or your civil partner, not a partner who you live with as if you are married or as if you are civil partners.