Help with bills and housing costs

You might be able to get help with your bills and housing costs if you have cancer.

Housing benefit

Housing Benefit is money that can help you pay your rent if you're:

  • unemployed

  • on a low income

  • claiming benefits

Universal Credit is replacing Housing Benefit, but you'll continue to get it if your application was made before 15 May 2019.

You can only apply for Housing Benefit if you:

  • have reached State Pension age

  • are in supported, sheltered or temporary housing

If you’ve reached State Pension age and are on your own you can claim Housing Benefit.

If you’re over State Pension age and live with your partner

You can only apply for Housing Benefit if:

  • you and your partner are of State Pension age

  • one of you has reached State Pension age and started claiming Pension Credit (for you as a couple) before 15 May 2019

  • you live in supported, sheltered or temporary housing

If you’re over State Pension age and have an existing claim

If you were getting Housing Benefit before 15 May 2019 you will continue to get it even if your partner is under State Pension age.

If your Housing Benefit is stopped because your circumstances change, you can’t start getting it again. You can only get it again if you and your partner qualify for a new claim. If you don’t, you can apply for Universal Credit.

If you're in supported, sheltered or temporary housing

You can apply for Housing Benefit if:

  • you're living in temporary accommodation, such as a bed and breakfast that your council has organised

  • you're living in a place of shelter for survivors of domestic abuse

  • you're living in sheltered or supported housing (such as a hostel) which gives you care, support or supervision

You can apply for Universal Credit if you don't get care, support or supervision through your supported or sheltered housing.

If you’re living in supported, sheltered or temporary housing, you can apply for Universal Credit to help with other living costs.

Other help with housing costs

Extra help with your rent

If you're getting Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit and it does not cover your rent, you could apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) from your council. It is a payment made by the council after looking at your circumstances. DHP is available in England and Wales. In Northern Ireland, you could apply at the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.

Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) can give you extra money to meet your housing costs. You may get a DHP to help with housing costs, such as:

  • a rent shortfall
  • rent deposits
  • rent in advance if you need to move home

Your council will decide whether you qualify, how much you will get and for how long you will receive it.

Help with the cost of heating

There are ways to make your home more energy efficient and reduce your bills. You can save energy by:

  • insulating your loft and cavity walls

  • draught proofing windows and doors

  • upgrading your boiler

  • installing double glazing

  • using alternative sources of energy, such as solar power

If you own a property in England or Wales you can get advice on how to improve your house so it is cheaper to heat and keep warm.

There’s different advice if you live in Scotland or Northern Ireland. Visit Home Energy Scotland if you want advice for Scotland or visit NI Direct if you want advice for Northern Ireland.

You can also apply for a home energy grant. It can help to cover the cost of insulating your loft and cavity walls.

Where to get advice

You can get help and advice on benefits from the following people:

  • a hospital or community social worker - they can give you advice on benefits and help you deal with debts
  • a welfare rights adviser at a hospital
  • Citizens Advice - their advisers can help with filling out benefit forms
  • The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) provide its service through Jobcentre Plus offices. They deal with benefits for people who are unemployed or who can’t work because of a health condition or a disability

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, the Department for Communities deals with benefits and pensions. For Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) and Income Support in Northern Ireland, you need to contact your Jobs and Benefits office.

Macmillan Cancer Support

Macmillan Cancer Support provides support and guidance on how to deal with the financial impact of cancer.

You can contact their team of trained Welfare Rights Advisors (Monday-Friday 8am-8pm) or Financial Guides (Monday-Friday 8am-6pm) on 0808 808 0000.

Related links