Foster Care and Housing Benefit

If you need to claim Housing Benefit (HB) to help you pay your rent there are specific rules concerning foster carers.

  • A child or young person is not counted as a member of the claimant’s household if they are a foster child placed by a local authority or voluntary organisation or placed for adoption or custodianship (though once adopted they do become a member of the household).
  • Fostering allowance, adoption allowance and special guardianship payments paid by local authorities or voluntary organisations are not counted as income when calculating Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction.

If you rent from a private landlord

If you need financial help to pay your rent you can apply for Local Housing Allowance (LHA). The maximum amount of LHA you can claim will be based on the number of bedrooms your household needs according to the criteria set out below.  If you have more bedrooms than you need the amount of LHA you can claim will be significantly less than the rent you have to pay so you will have to pay the shortfall from other income. For further details, including details of benefit caps, see Brighton and Hove's website on 'Local Housing Allowance rates in Brighton and Hove'.

There are set annual LHA amounts for properties dependant on their size. In Brighton and Hove, for the financial year commencing 06 April 2017, these are (subject to minor revision):

one bedroom

£153.02 per week

two bedroom

£192.48 per week

three bedroom

£230.28 per week

four bedroom

£339.36 per week

If you rent from a council or Housing Association

Your Housing Benefit (HB) will also be paid based on the number of bedrooms your household needs according to the criteria set out below. If you have more bedrooms than you need your benefit will be reduced by 14% if you have one spare bedroom or 25% if you have two or more spare bedrooms.  You will have to pay the shortfall from other income.

Changes for foster carers

After much debate the government have introduced some changes intended to prevent financial hardship and protect foster families providing this essential service to vulnerable children. New regulations have now been issued that allows one extra bedroom for your foster child(ren).

What are the ‘size criteria’?

The benefit 'size criteria' allow one bedroom for:

  • every adult couple (same or opposite sex)
  • any other adult aged 16 or over (including live-in carers)
  • any child whose disability makes it unreasonable for them to share a bedroom with another child
  • any two children of the same sex aged under 16
  • any two children under age 10
  • any other child
  • an occasional overnight carer providing regular care to you or your partner  but who lives elsewhere

What if you struggle to pay your rent?

If you cannot afford to pay your rent even with Housing Benefit or Local Allowance in payment the council may be able to help. Each year every council receives a separate fund of money from the government that can be paid on discretionary grounds, it is called the Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) fund. Your local council has discretion over who to pay and how much and in what circumstances.

Brighton and Hove City Council has agreed to pay the shortfall between rent and Housing Benefit caused by the introduction of the size criteria in council and Housing Association tenancies for the full 52 week year while you remain a foster carer. If you claim Housing Benefit from another council you will need to contact them to find out their policy details.

Stay up-to-date

Remember to keep the benefits department informed of any changes in your household circumstances, for example: changes in income, changes to balances held in bank/building society/other accounts, anyone moving in or out of your home. The benefits department will contact you by phone and/or email if you prefer and you keep your contact details up-to-date, this speeds up and simplifies the process of contacting us.


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