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:
Usually you won’t get Housing Benefit if:
Universal Credit may include money towards your housing costs. You’ll have to arrange with your landlord to start paying your own rent, if you don’t do this already. Find out more about Universal Credit here.
If you wish to make a benefit 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 your claim form is received.
In some circumstances the date on which you are treated as making your claim is different to the date on which you hand in your claim. If you would like more information regarding the date benefit is paid from please contact the Benefits Service.
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 have savings or capital of more than £16,000, you cannot get Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support.
If you are below state pension age, or if you are part of a couple and are both under state pension age, it will not affect your claim if you have £6,000 or less. 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 state 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.
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.
If you have reached pension age, benefit can be backdated for up to three months before the date of your claim, as long as you met the qualifying conditions during the backdating period.
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.
You have the right to ask for a written statement of reason about your housing benefit decision. This will explain in detail the reasons for our decision. If you want a written statement of reasons you must ask us for one within one month of the date of the housing benefit decision letter.
If you think the decision about your housing benefit is wrong you should write to us and explain why. We must receive your letter within one calendar month of the date of the decision letter. A dispute can be made on your behalf but it must be made in writing and signed by you. You should say clearly in your letter if you wish to appeal against a decision you are disputing. If we agree that the original decision is wrong and the new decision is to your advantage we will send you a new decision and your appeal will stop. If you do not agree with the new decision you can appeal against it.
If we do not change our decision and you have made it clear that you wish to appeal we will send your appeal to the HM Courts and Tribunal Service. The HM Courts and Tribunal Service will arrange for an independent tribunal to hear your case. If you have not stated that you wish to appeal and we do not change our decision you will be given a further calendar month in which to make an appeal if you still think our decision is wrong.
If you think the decision about your Council Tax Support is wrong you should write to us and explain why. We will look at your Council Tax Support award again and write to you with our decision. If we do not respond to your appeal within two months, or if you are still not happy with our decision, you can appeal directly to the Valuation Tribunal.
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 must inform the Benefits Service immediately if any of the details you have reported in your claim change. Delays in reporting changes in circumstance can result in benefit being overpaid or being awarded a discount you are not entitled to.
If you know you are going to be away from home for 4 weeks or more, please remember to tell the benefits team straightaway
From 28 July 2016, the rules have changed. When calculating the period of any absence, the day on which you leave your home counts towards the number of days you are absent. The day you return home does not count towards calculating the period of absence. You can get Housing Benefit for:
outside of Great Britain (includes England, Wales and Scotland) and your absence is not expected to exceed 4 weeks
outside of Great Britain (includes England, Wales and Scotland) due to the death of
and it is unreasonable to expect you to return within the first 4 weeks.
but you must intend to return home within 13 weeks and you must not sublet your home. You must let the benefit team know when you decide to return home.
but you must intend to return home and you must not sublet your home. You must let the benefit team when you decide to return home.
If you are in residential care in Great Britain on a trial basis to assess whether it is the right accommodation for you, you can continue to get your Housing Benefit for up to 13 weeks, so long as you intend to return home if the accommodation proves not to be suitable for you.
If you know you are going to be away from home, including starting a trial basis, please remember to tell the benefits team straightaway
Whilst you are way, please remember to tell us if
We will stop paying you benefit from the Monday following the date you decide not to return home.
For a detailed list of the differences between temporary absences within GB and outside GB please see this table.
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.
Universal Credit will replace the following:
If you’re already claiming benefits, your local Jobcentre Plus or Tax Credits office will tell you when you have to move to Universal Credit.
Universal Credit may include money towards your housing costs. You’ll have to arrange with your landlord to start paying your own rent, if you don’t do this already.
Find out more about Universal Credit here.