What are Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit?
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- Who can claim Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit?
- Who cannot claim Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit?
- How do I claim Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit?
- What if I need help filling in the form?
- When should I claim?
- What proof do I need to give you?
- If you are on a low income
- What if I haven’t got all the proof you need?
- How much Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit will I get?
- In all other cases
- What is a non-dependant?
- What money do you count when you work out my benefit?
- What about other money I have?
- Do you need proof of my rent?
- When will my benefit start?
- What happens next?
- How long will it take you to work out my benefit?
- How will you pay me?
- What happens if my circumstances change?
- What happens if you give me too much money?
- Special rules for claiming Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit
- People who are away from home
- What can I do if I don’t agree with your decision?
- Where can I get help?
- What if I want to comment on your service?
- If you want more information
- Housing Benefit helps towards paying rent.
- Council Tax Benefit helps towards paying Council Tax.
There are two types of Council Tax Benefit.
- Main Council Tax Benefit.
- Second Adult Rebate.
Anyone on a low income can claim as long they, or their partner:
- are responsible for paying the rent on the property; or
- pay the Council Tax bill for their home.
- people who are in hospital or a care home;
- people who are in prison;
- people who have to go through immigration control;
- young people aged 16 to 17; and
- people who have to maintain two homes.
The following people cannot claim Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit.
- People with more than £16,000 in savings. If you get Pension Credit (the guarantee part), you may still be entitled to benefit.
- Most full-time students.
- People who:
- live with and pay rent to a close relative;
- used to live with the landlord as a member of their family;
- rent a home they used to share with an ex-partner; or
- within the last 5 years used to own the property they now rent.
- People who are away from home.
These are just a few examples. If you are not sure, contact us for advice.
If you claim Income Support , income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance , contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance , contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance or Incapacity Benefit .
In most cases you will make your claim over the phone using Jobcentre Plus’ customer management system (CMS). Jobcentre Plus will then pass your details and claim to us. If you do not make your claim over the phone, they will give you a HCTB1 form to fill in, and return to us.
If you claim Pension Credit
If you claim Pension Credit, you will claim Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit at the same time as you claim your Pension Credit. The Pension Service will then pass your details and claim to us.
If you are on a low income
You can claim by filling in one of our forms and giving us the proof we need to assess your claim.
You can get the form from us – see the more information section for details.
Just contact us if you need help filling in the form. We will be able to tell you where you can get help.
You could also contact your local citizens advice bureau for help.
- If you have difficulty making a claim because you are elderly or disabled, we may be able to visit you at home.
Please contact us direct for help.
You should claim as soon as possible because you may lose benefit if you delay.
If you apply late, sometimes we can pay benefit from an earlier date. This is called ‘backdating’.
There are strict rules on backdating benefit, and you must show good cause (reasons) so we can backdate your claim.
If you want us to backdate your benefit, you must apply in writing, giving your reasons why you could not claim from an earlier date.
For more information on ‘backdating’ contact us.
See also the section called ‘When will my benefit start’ for more information.
We need proof of your and your partner’s national insurance number , along with proof of the benefits you receive.
We may also ask you to provide proof of identity for both of you.
We need proof of your and your partner’s national insurance number . We may also ask you to provide proof of identity for both of you.
We also need to see proof of:
- social security benefits;
- Pension Credit (the savings part);
- retirement pensions (State Pension and occupational pensions); and
We also need to see proof of all your bank accounts, along with proof of any other savings or investments you have.
Our form tells you what you need to provide. If you are not sure, contact us.
Don’t delay - you should send your claim form in anyway.
You can send us the information at a later date, but we will not be able to work out your benefit until you have provided the information.
You will normally get the maximum amount of benefit you are entitled to, after we have taken off charges for:
- other people who live with you – these are called non-dependants, see the section ‘What is a non-dependant’; and
- service charges which may be included in your rent.
We work out your benefit by comparing the money you get each week with your ‘applicable amount’.
Your applicable amount is what the Government says you and your family need to live on each week.
The applicable amount will be higher for some people – for example, if you are disabled or if you are a one-parent family.
When we have worked out what money you get each week, if it’s less than, or the same as, the applicable amount, you will usually get the maximum benefit.
But don’t forget, if you have any non-dependants living with you we might have to make a deduction from your benefit for them.
And, the amount of Housing Benefit you get might be affected by what the Rent Service has said, or by any service charges that are included in your rent.
A non-dependant is a person aged 18 or over who lives with you, or is using your home as their main home on a non-commercial basis.
Examples of non-dependants include:
- adult sons or daughters; or
- other relatives or friends.
A non-dependant does not have to be a member of your family.
If you have a non-dependant living in your home, or another adult moves into your property, we will need to see proof of all their income.
Depending on the amount and type of income the non-dependant receives, it could affect the amount of benefit you receive.
We will write to you to let you know how their income affects your benefit.
For more information on non-dependants, contact us.
We count any money you and your partner (if you have one) have coming in.
This includes things like:
- social security benefits;
- works pension; and
- wages or self-employed income.
We count the money you earn from work after money has been taken out for:
- tax and National Insurance contributions ; and
- half of any money you pay into a private pension fund.
We do not count the first:
- £5 of the money you earn each week, if you are single;
- £10 of the money you earn each week, if you are a couple;
- £20 of the money you earn each week, if you are disabled; or
- £25 of the money you earn each week, if you are a single parent.
If you work, you might want to pick up our leaflet called ‘Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit for people who work’.
Sometimes we ignore different amounts from other types of income and benefits.
We also ignore things like:
- Disability Living Allowance ; and
- Attendance Allowance .
- Maintenance payments if you have dependent children.
These are just a few examples. For more information - contact us.
Small amounts of savings and investments do not affect your claim, but you must still tell us about all your savings and investments, including current bank accounts.
You should tell us about all the bank and building society accounts that you and your partner have.
Don’t forget to tell us about any stocks and shares you have too.
Government rules say that if you, and your partner if you have one, have savings or investments of more than £16,000, you cannot get benefit.
The only exception to this is if you, or your partner, get Pension Credit (the guarantee part).
- If you, or your partner, are under 60 and have £6,000 or less, it will not affect your claim.
- If you, or your partner, are under 60 and have between £6,000 and £16,000, it will affect how much benefit you get.
For every £250 (or part of £250) you have over £6,000, we add £1 to the money we count each week when working out your benefit.
This is called ‘tariff income’.
- If you, or your partner, are over 60 and have £6,000 (£10,000 from October 2009) or less, it will not affect your claim.
- If you, or your partner, are over 60, we will only use tariff income between £6,000 (£10,000 from October 2009) and £16,000.
For every £500 (or part of £500) you have over £6,000, we add £1 to the money we count each week when working out your benefit.
Yes, we need proof of your rent. This is usually a tenancy agreement, but could also be a rent book or a letter from your landlord.
The proof you provide must include:
- your full name, and the names of any other joint tenants;
- the full address of the property you are renting;
- the landlord’s full name and address;
- the full name and address of any agent;
- the start date of the tenancy, and how long the tenancy will last;
- how much rent you pay;
- how often you pay your rent;
- any services which are included in the rent and how much you pay for those services; and
- your signature and your landlord’s signature.
If you qualify, your benefit will usually start from the Monday after we get your claim form.
But, if you think your benefit should start earlier, you need to write to us and tell us why.
We will work out your eligible rent when we get your claim form and all the proof we need.
The eligible rent is the rent you pay each week after we have taken off things like:
- any deductions for other people who live with you; and
- any service charges included in your rent.
We aim to deal with all claims as soon as possible, but it depends on how quickly you give us all the information.
When we have all the information, we will work out your benefit and write to you to tell you how much you will get.
Council Tax Benefit
You will get a bill which shows the amount you have to pay after the benefit has been awarded.
- Housing-association tenant
We usually pay your Housing Benefit every four weeks for the four weeks just passed. Sometimes we can pay it direct to the housing association. This is called ‘rent allowance’.
- Private tenant
Your benefit may have to be worked out under the new Local Housing Allowance rules. Under these rules we pay your Housing Benefit direct to you, into your bank account, unless there are special reasons why you cannot manage your finances (for example, because you have a learning disability, have language problems, are ill, are in a lot of debt or are addicted to drugs, alcohol or gambling, or you owe rent for 8 weeks or more).
You should tell us straightaway in writing about any change which may affect your benefit. If you are on Income Support , income based Jobseeker’s Allowance , or income-related Employment and Support Allowance , you must also tell Jobcentre Plus .
If you receive Pension Credit , you will need to tell The Pension Service straightaway, The Pension Service will then tell us.
Typical examples of changes in circumstances are if:
- you stop getting Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or income-related Employment and Support Allowance;
- your income changes;
- your rent changes;
- you move out of your property; or
- an adult moves into or out of your property.
You must report all changes to us straightaway. It is an offence under Section 14 of the Social Security Administration (Fraud) Act 1997 if you do not tell us about a change in your circumstances which might affect your entitlement to Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit.
If you have a change in your circumstances and are not sure if you should tell us, contact us.
If we have paid you too much benefit, it is called an ‘overpayment’.
If there is an overpayment, we will send you a letter which tells you:
- why we paid you too much benefit;
- how much the overpayment is;
- if you have to pay back the amount; and
- how you can appeal if you think this is wrong.
If you want more information, we have a leaflet called ‘What happens when you’ve been paid too much Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit’. Just pick up a copy – from any of our customer service centres.
Most full-time students cannot get Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit, as they are expected to use other money (such as their student loan or grant ) to pay for their accommodation. However, there are exceptions - see below for some examples.
If you are a student, you may be able to get benefit if:
- you have children;
- you are aged 60 or over; or
- you get Income Support , income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or income-related Employment and Support Allowance .
These are just a few examples, and the rules on students and Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit are very complicated. So if you are not sure whether you can claim, contact us for advice.
Most people who are away from home cannot get Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit. However, in certain circumstances we can pay benefit. This applies if you are away from home (for any reason) for less than 13 weeks.
We may also be able to pay benefit for up to 52 weeks in the following circumstances, if:
- you are an in-patient in hospital;
- you are receiving medically approved care, treatment or convalescence;
- you are escaping violence; or
- you are a prisoner on remand.
These are just a few examples, and the rules on people who are away from home and Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit are very complicated. So, if you are not sure whether you can claim, contact us for advice.
If you don’t agree with our decision, you can ask us to look at it again. Our letters tell you what your rights are.
You could also pick up our leaflet called ‘What to do if you disagree with a Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit decision’ from any of our customer service centres – which gives more detailed information.
You can always phone us for help and advice. See the More Information Section for details.
If you need independent advice, contact your local citizens advice bureau .
You should get in touch with us. We would like to know what you think about this leaflet, or about the services we provide to you.
You’ll find our details in the More Information Section.
If you have any questions you can phone our Housing Benefit Section. The office is open: Monday to Wednesday from 8.30am to 5.00pm Thursday from 8.30am to 4.30pm Friday from 8.30am to 4.00pm. Phone 0161 342 3708 or call in and talk to someone at one of our customer service centres.