Service charges and benefits
Four benefits - Income Support, Income-Based Job Seeker's Allowance, Income-Related Employment Support Allowance, and Pension Credit - can also help to pay for eligible service charges on a home that the claimant is buying or part buying.
Usually people who are also claiming Housing Benefit will receive help for service charges, but they could claim them through the benefit they are getting help with for their other housing costs (e.g. mortgage) instead.
Regulations specifically allow payments to be made for shared ownership schemes. However, if there is no rental liability then the charges normally have to be claimed from a DWP benefit such as Pension Credits.
Please note that different rules apply for Universal Credit claimants.
Not all service charges are eligible for assistance. Benefits cannot be paid, for example, for:
- Personal heating and hot water
- Contents insurance
- Water rates
- Care charges
- Support charges, including provision of a social alarm system
- Gardening of private areas (communal landscaping/gardening is eligible)
Management and maintenance charges are sometimes disputed, but they should be eligible as they are not specifically excluded.
As well as covering the interest on mortgage payments and eligible service charges, benefits that can help with housing costs can also sometimes cover repairs and improvements.
In general the same eligibility rules for these benefits apply as for Housing Benefit. DWP guidance, however, has stipulated that while service charges for minor repairs and improvements can be covered, a service charge levied for refurbishment or the replacement of an item will not be paid.