Housing Benefit/Local Housing Allowance is a national welfare benefit designed to help people on low incomes pay their rent.
Council Tax Support is a local scheme designed to help people on a low income pay their council tax.
Both Housing Benefit/Local Housing Allowance and Council Tax Support are means tested benefits. When we work out how much help someone is entitled to we take into account their income and savings, their household and their household’s income.
Eligibility to claim for Housing Benefit and Council tax support
You are eligible to claim Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support
- if you pay rent to a housing association or a private landlord.
- if you pay Council Tax.
Please note that even if you are eligible to make a claim you may not qualify to receive Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support.
Making a claim
Apply for Housing Benefit/Local Housing Allowance and Council Tax Support.
When to claim
It is important that you make your claim straight away. Do not delay in making a claim as we normally pay benefit from the Monday following the date the claim was received.
Do not delay in sending your claim form to us if you do not have all the supporting evidence available at the time. You can send the information to us within one calendar month of the receipt date of your claim, but we cannot work out your benefit without it, so the quicker you provide it the better.
Information we need to support your claim
The Housing Benefit/Local Housing Allowance scheme is a means tested benefit so we need to know about you and your household before we can calculate any award. To do this, you will be asked to provide evidence of your identity, rent (if applicable), income, savings and that of your household. This is to ensure the claim is verified and the correct amount of benefit awarded.
Examples of things we might need to see are:
- Proof of your identity (this must be two forms of identity for each person, one of which must include your national insurance number)
- Your most recent payslips
- Your tenancy agreement
- Recent bank statement
When you apply online, you will be advised of what information is needed to support your claim when you submit the online form.
If you are entitled to Council Tax Support, this will be credited directly to your Council Tax account and a new bill issued to you showing any award.
Housing Benefit/Local Housing Allowance is normally paid to the claimant but can be paid to the Landlord in some cases. It is paid every 4 weeks, in arrears by BACS.
In some cases we can award benefit for a period prior to your claim. This is known as backdating. Claims can be backdated for a maximum period of 1 month for working age customers and 3 months for pension age customers.
For a claim to be backdated, you would need to show ‘good cause’ as to why you could not claim at that time. If you think you have shown ‘good cause’ you should complete the relevant backdating section on the on line claim form and provide any supporting evidence you may have.
We will then consider whether or not we can backdate your claim, and we will notify you of our decision in writing.
If you have already submitted your claim form, you can still ask for the claim to be backdated but the time limit for backdating will go from Monday following the date of your request, not from date of the original claim.
Notification of awards
Once your Housing benefit claim has been considered and assessed, the benefits team will send you an award notice advising you of any award that has been made and detailing the information we have used to work out your benefit. Council Tax Support awards will be displayed on the Council Tax bill. You will need to check the award notice carefully to ensure all the information used is correct.
If you don’t understand any aspect of your award or think it is wrong and wish to appeal against it, you must contact us immediately. Any appeal must be received within one calendar month of the date of the notification.
Disagreeing with award decisions
If you think the decision is wrong, you have one calendar month from the date of the decision notice to tell us. Any request must be in writing and signed, detailing what you think is wrong and the reasons why. You should provide supporting evidence if available. You can ask us to:
- Look at the decision again;
- Appeal against the decision and request it be looked at by the Tribunal Service
Changes in circumstances
You must tell us immediately of any changes to your circumstances that may affect your award. If you don’t, you may lose money you are entitled to or you may be awarded too much money and have to repay it (known as an overpayment).
If you currently claim Housing Benefit/Local Housing Allowance or Council Tax Support, you can notify your change in circumstances using the change in circumstance notification form.
We are unable to list all the changes you should tell us about but below are some examples of the types of changes you need to tell us about for you and/or your partner:
- capital or savings/investments
- rent or accommodation
- someone moving in or out
- someone who lives with you starts or finishes work, or has a change to their income
- a new baby
- a child leaves school
Overpayments and recovery
An overpayment is an amount of benefit paid to which you were not entitled. There are ways in which your claim can be overpaid such as:
- Not telling us about changes to your circumstances immediately
- Fraudulent claims
Housing Benefit/Local Housing Allowance Overpayments can be recovered directly from the Landlord (if payments were made to the Landlord in the first instance), from your on going benefit award, or from you direct via invoice.
If you have been invoiced to repay an overpayment you can pay on line at Pay Housing Benefit overpayments.
Difficulties paying rent
If you are receiving Housing Benefit/Local Housing Allowance and you are still having difficulty paying your rental shortfall, we may be able to help you further via the Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) fund.
This is a separate award made at the council’s discretion. To apply you will need to complete and return the Discretionary Housing Payment form. We will then consider your circumstances and advise you of our decision. Awards are not guaranteed and are only given on a short term basis.
Further help or advice?
If you need further help or advice about benefits please see the Advice for All information or www.gov.uk