Housing benefit is a national welfare benefit that helps people on low income, or other state benefits, meet their rent costs.
You can claim if:
Special rules apply if you are:
If you fall into one of these categories, you should contact us for more information.
If you wish to make a claim, please click on the link below:
If you apply late, and ask us to pay for a 'backdated' period, we might not be able to pay you for that period.
If you need help in completing the application form, or if you have a question about your claim, you can either:
If you are unable to visit one of our offices and would like us to come to your home to help you complete an application form, please phone 0800 072 0042.
If English is not your first language, we can translate our documents for you. Please contact us telling us which document you have received and which language you need. We aim to provide documents in plain English and in formats that everyone can use. If you would like information in large print, Braille or a different language or format, please contact us.
Our call centre operates a language line and we can arrange for interpreters to assist you at our offices.
The amount of benefit you receive depends on your rent, Council Tax, income and whether you have other people living in your house, and when your claim is made.
Use our online benefits calculator to see if you are entitled to benefits.
The VOA is an executive agency of HM Revenue & Customs. It provides valuations for local authorities in England, for use in the assessment of claims for Housing Benefit where the tenant is renting from a private landlord. The VOA also sets the Local Housing Allowance.
The Local Housing Allowance rate will be decided by the following:
The rate of Local Housing Allowance set in the month you claim will apply to your claim for 12 months unless there is a change in the number of people living with you or you move house.
The Housing Benefit scheme is based on regulations set by the government. We need to know a lot of information about you and your household before we can work out how much benefit you are entitled to.
You will be asked for original documents to prove your:
Find out more about providing proof.
Don't delay sending your claim form if the proof isn't available at the moment. You can send the information in later, but we cannot work out your benefit until we receive it.
If you give our customer service officer all the documents needed to support your new claim, we will try to assess and agree your claim within 48 hours.
If you qualify for Council Tax Support we will pay it straight into your Council Tax account. A new bill will show the amount you have to pay after the benefit has been deducted.
We will pay you a weekly rent rebate straight to your rent account, reducing the amount of rent you have to pay.
We usually pay a rent allowance to you, but sometimes we can pay it to your Housing Association or landlord. We usually pay it every 4 weeks, in arrears.
If you receive Local Housing Allowance we must pay this directly to you unless there are exceptional circumstances. We can only make payments to your landlord in specific circumstances and we have developed a set of criteria that help us make a decision on these cases; we call this our Safeguards Policy.
We normally pay benefit from the Monday after we receive your application form.
If you move into a new address we can start your claim on the date that you move in provided we receive the claim form before you move in or within the same week (for benefit purposes, a week begins on a Monday and ends on a Sunday).
If you are receiving specific state benefits and you move into a new address, your benefit will start on the date that you move in provided we receive a claim form within 4 weeks of that date.
If you claimed specific state benefits and you claimed Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support within 4 weeks, your benefit will start from the Monday after your other benefit starts.
If you have friends, relatives or anyone over 18 living in your home, you may get less benefit. These people are called 'non-dependants' and a set amount may be taken out of your benefit each week for each non-dependant who lives in your home.
Non-dependants do not include:
No money will be taken out of your benefit for non-dependants if:
We count almost all income you receive. This includes things like:
Some types of income and benefits are ignored but we will advise you of this when we calculate your benefit. If you are not sure how much income you have, please declare it when you make your claim. Failure to do so could result in an overpayment of benefit and further action could be considered.
If you are a couple and have savings or capital of more than £16,000, you cannot get Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support. If you or your partner are under 60 and have £6,000 or less, it will not affect your claim. However, if you or your partner have between £6,000 and £16,000, it does affect how much benefit you get. For every £250 (or part of £250) you have over £6,000, we add £1.00 to the money we count each week when working out your benefit. This is called 'tariff income'.
If you or your partner have reached pension age and have savings of £10,000 or less, it will not affect your claim.
Tariff income will only be used if you have between £10,000 and £16,000. For every £500 (or part of £500) you have over £10,000, we add £1.00 to the money we count each week when working out your benefit. This is called 'tariff income'. If you receive Guarantee Pension Credit no tariff income will be used in the calculation of your entitlement.
If you're not sure of your savings total, please declare it when you make your claim.
Sometimes we can pay benefit for a period before the date you have claimed. This is called 'backdating' your claim.
From 1st April 2016 the maximum that we can backdate a housing benefit claim made by someone of working age is one month and for council tax support the maximum is six months. If you have reached pension age the maximum that we can backdate a housing benefit or council tax support claim is three months
There has to be a good reason why your claim is late, this is known as 'good cause'.
By 'good cause' we mean things like:
If you think you have 'good cause' for making a late claim you should make a written request telling us the period you want to claim backdating, give full details and evidence of why your claim is late and supply all the evidence about your income as soon as possible.
We will then consider whether we can backdate your benefit and advise you in writing of our decision.
When we have dealt with your claim for benefit we will send you a decision letter. The letter shows the information we have used to work out your benefit and you should check it carefully.
If you think our decision is wrong you can ask us to look at our decision again or pass your case to an independent tribunal run by the Tribunals Service. You must write to us within one calendar month of the date of the decision letter. If you ask for this outside the one calendar month you must also inform us of the reasons for your delay.
We can explain our decision by sending you a 'Statement of Reasons' explaining how we have worked out your benefit. You can contact us by phone, in writing or you can call into one of our offices. If you ask for a written Statement of Reasons you will have the one calendar month from the date of the decision letter plus the time we took to send you the Statement of Reasons.
The law says you must tell us if there is any change to the information we have used to calculate your Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support.
You should tell us immediately of any changes in your circumstances.
You need to tell us about any change that could affect your benefit, for example, if there is any change to your or your partner's:
We cannot list all of the changes in circumstance that you should tell us about, but if you are not sure whether we need to know please contact us.
You should tell us within one month of the change happening. If you don't you could lose benefit.
If you don't report a change that you know to affect your benefit, and don't have a good reason for this, you are committing a criminal offence, just as if you gave us false information or concealed the truth.
If you leave your home temporarily, tell us before you go. If you don't contact us your benefit may stop and you may have to make a new claim on your return.
If you contact us first, you are still entitled to receive Housing benefit for up to 13 weeks, although you must intend to return to the property and you must not charge somebody else rent for living in your accommodation whilst you are away.
If you stay away for longer than 13 weeks, we will not normally be able to pay you any benefit for the time you were away, even if you told us before you left.
We may be able to pay for housing benefit to be paid for up to 52 weeks if you have had to leave your home because of fear of domestic violence. If you are in a women's refuge and you feel unable to do so yourself, you should ask one of the refuge workers to contact us, even if the refuge is not in Westminster. We will not disclose your refuge address to anyone.
If you go into hospital we can pay your benefit for up to 52 weeks, provided that you are expected to return home within that time. You do not need to contact us before you go into hospital to receive benefit for the time that you are there. But please ask a friend or relative, or a hospital social worker to let us know where you are as soon as possible.
If you are in prison as a remand prisoner you can still receive benefit for up to 52 weeks.
If during this time you are sentenced and committed to prison, your Housing Benefit will stop unless your sentence is for 6 months or less. You do not have to inform us before you go to prison to receive benefits, but you, a friend, a relative or a prison social worker should inform us of what has happened as soon as possible.
Information about overpayments can be found here.
Use this form to request a payment arrangement to pay back a Housing Benefit overpayment.
Use this form if you have an existing recovery arrangement in place for a Housing Benefit overpayment and want to request a change to the amount of the instalment.
Instances of suspected Housing Benefit fraud are no longer investigated by the council. This function has been transferred to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
If you suspect that someone is committing Housing Benefit fraud you can report this to the DWP by calling 0800 854 440 or by visiting the DWP website.
If you want to make a complaint, the Council has a simple two-stage complaints procedure.
If you are not satisfied with the benefits service, you can make a complaint to:
Alternatively you can contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau or other Advice Agency for assistance.