Single mums in the UK are eligible for a number of state benefits and support especially when they have younger children. For instance, single mums will be eligible to receive Income Support if they have a child under 5 years of age, are working for less than 16 hours per week, have less than £16,000 in savings and are living on a low income or without an income at all. 

Being the sole adult in the house will also qualify single mums for council tax reduction, due to which they may be able to budget for other living expenses. Additionally, they may also qualify for the following benefits:

  • Employment and Support Allowance 
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Housing benefit
  • Child benefit
  • Child tax credit
  • Working tax credit
  • Help with rent/mortgage payments

Can I Get Council House If I’m Single Mum?

If you are a single mum with a dependant child or children, you will be considered on high priority for council housing. In addition to this, if the applicant is a teenage single mum especially between the ages of 16-17, or they have fled domestic abuse, they will be assigned a higher priority band for council housing.

Generally, each council has their own rules for the provision of council homes. This is called an “allocation scheme”; according to which applicants’ eligibility criteria and priorities are assigned.

However, as a basic rule, anyone who is above 18 years of age, low on income and savings can apply for council housing. Some councils also require a “local connection” of the applicant. This means that either they have lived in the vicinity for a number of years or they have a family or job in the area.

Other key criteria for council housing eligibility include the following:

  • the applicants hold British or Irish citizenship
  • they have indefinite leave to remain
  • they fall under settled status (under the EU settlement scheme)
  • they are refugees or under humanitarian protection
  • they are a Commonwealth citizen with a right of abode

While each council has an individual allocation scheme to follow in terms of assigning priority to council housing applicants, claimants who fulfil any of the following criteria are expected to be higher on priority:

  • if someone is legally homeless 
  • they have to move homes due to a serious medical condition or disability
  • due to hardship-anything from medical treatment or potential danger to changing jobs
  • currently residing in an over-crowded house or under poor living conditions

However, as per a recent news report, foster parents and key workers will get higher priority for council housing in some areas. Foster parents and adoptive parents are being assigned Band 1 to extend the maximum benefit to their children. In recognition of their work during the pandemic, key workers have been assigned a Band 2 (The total number of bands is 4 with Band 1 being the highest on the priority list).

Through the following passages, we will try to cover as many details as we can to share information on the process of application in the case of council property. For this purpose we will try to answer the following questions:

  • How Can I Apply For Council Housing?
  • How Should I File An Application For Council Housing?
  • What Happens Once The Application is Accepted? 
  • Can Applicants Choose Their Own Homes?
  • What To Do If An Application is Refused? 

How Can I Apply For Council Housing?

To apply for council housing, candidates are required to apply to their local council (mostly online), who will then consider it based on their criteria for awarding priority to those from certain demographics and or social classes. To find out details about your local council click on this link Find your local council

Even if the local council accepts and prioritizes the application, it does not mean that the applicant will be provided with occupancy rights immediately. They will simply be confirmed to be eligible and added to a waiting list. The time between application and occupancy varies from council to council and may also depend upon the size of the waiting list.

How Should I File An Application For Council Housing?

Candidates are advised to share as many relevant details as possible in their application and also include any supporting evidence to back up their claims. This may include medical reports or doctor’s notes, in case the application is being raised on medical grounds. 

Details of the following may be required:

  • income and/or benefits
  • employment history
  • long-term medical conditions or disabilities
  • savings 
  • assets in possession such as automobile
  • visas or immigration documents (if the applicant is not from the UK)

These details not only determine whether or not a candidate is eligible; but may also increase their rank in a list of priority applicants. Furthermore, they also help to determine the size of housing that may be required by them.

What Happens Once The Application is Accepted? 

Once an application is accepted, the local council assigns candidates to a group (also referred to as or ‘band’) and assigns a level of priority.

A high priority indicates that the candidate can expect to be assigned a home urgently. However, there are chances that despite being assigned a high priority label, some individuals may have to wait a long time. 

Can Applicants Choose Their Own Homes?

Applicants will need to check with their local councils whether a place of residence will be chosen and assigned by the council or the residents be given the option to choose. In the case of the latter, once the application is approved, the local council may share an online platform where the process of “bidding” takes place.

If a candidate finds a suitable home and prefers it as their residence, they may inform the council of their intent by applying for it online. This is called “bidding”. The council may then direct them on how to proceed with the next steps in the bidding process.

A bid is merely a show of interest from the candidates’ side and does not guarantee that they may be assigned the premises. Depending upon the priority band and the time taken as part of the waiting list, the council decides whether the property is to be assigned as a housing facility to the bidding candidate or not.

What Happens After A Home Is Offered?

The local council contacts candidates directly to inform them once they’ve been assigned a council home. Additionally, they also indicate the time frame that a candidate has to accept or refuse the premises being offered. There is usually a small window for candidates to respond before the council home is offered to someone else.

In the case of mutual agreement, a contract is drawn up and signed. Candidates may be offered a fixed-term contract (this may be for a year or more) or a long-term tenancy agreement. The council indicates the dates when occupants may move into the premises. They will also inform you of the dates when rent payments will be expected.

It must be noted here that as per the English Housing Survey of 2019-2020, social rents are charged higher if the property is located in London as compared to that outside. On average, social renters in London have been estimated to pay a weekly rent of £138 as compared to that of £95 outside London.

What To Do If An Application is Refused? 

In case of refusal of their application for council housing, candidates may challenge the decision by asking the local council for a review.

Decisions about priority bands assigned by the council as well those stating refusal for housing may be requested for review if the candidate carries substantial evidence to prove their claim. It is only with proof of supportive documents that an application may be challenged for review.

Conclusion:

Single mothers, especially those with younger children are high on the priority list for council housing. However, single mothers with a stable income or of strong financial status will not be able to enjoy the same privileges as those who are on low income.

In addition to council housing, there are other benefits and support programs that aim to share the burden of single parents. From income support to hob seeker’s allowance to council tax reduction, there are many options that a single parent may use for their financial assistance. However, each benefit has its own eligibility criteria that need to be met.

The best way to proceed is to contact your local council office and share your queries. They will ask for details about your income and personal circumstances and may even require evidential material or documents to support your claim. Once your application is processed at their end, local authorities will be in a better position to advise claimants on the amount and duration of benefits that are to be extended to single parents. 

FAQs: Can I Get Council House If I’m Single Mum?

How much housing benefits do single mums get?

The amount of housing benefit that single mums get depends on a range of factors including their income, the size of their home, whether it is a privately rented premise or council housing and the rent that they have to pay. You can contact your local council office to learn more about the Housing Benefit that you are eligible for depending on your personal circumstances.

What benefits can I get if I’m a single mom?

As a single mom, you can claim the following benefits: Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit and Housing Benefit.

How can a single mom get a house?

Single mothers can apply for government support schemes if they are low on income and intend to buy a house. There are some schemes that allow a minimal down payment while others offer interest-free loans to single mothers.

How can I get a council house fast?

If an applicant fulfils any of the below criteria, they are on priority for a council house and will be able to get it sooner than others:

  • if someone is legally homeless 
  • they have to move homes due to a serious medical condition or disability
  • due to hardship-anything from medical treatment or potential danger to changing jobs
  • currently residing in an over-crowded house or under poor living conditions

Who is eligible for single parent allowance?

A single parent allowance is applicable to men and women under the age of 66 who are raising a child on their own (without the support of a partner). However, this is a means-tested allowance with detailed criteria to be met. Therefore, it is advisable to contact the Department for Work and Pensions to learn more about your eligibility. 

References:

Support for Homeless Single Parents | Housing | Information | singleparents.org.uk

Financial Support for Single Parents | Benefits | Information | singleparents.org.uk

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