Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support for People Who Work

What are Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support?

Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support are welfare benefits, which help people on low incomes.

  • Housing Benefit is paid to people with a low income who pay rent.
  • Council Tax Support is paid to people with a low income who pay Council Tax.

Both Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support are means-tested benefits. This means that when we work out your benefit, we have to take account of things like your income, investments and savings.

Local councils run the Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support schemes.

Can I claim Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support even though I work?

Yes you can, but the more you earn, the less benefit you are likely to get. You should apply to find out if you are entitled. You can make a claim online.

I’m self-employed – can I claim Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support?

Yes you can. You need to give us proof of your self-employed earnings and you can contact us for more information about what we need.

How do I claim Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support?

If you don’t have all the proof of income and investments we need, don’t delay sending in your form as you may lose benefit. We can always ask for more information once we have received your application.

What proof will you need to see of my earned income?

We will need to see:

  • five payslips if you are paid every week;
  • two payslips if you are paid every month; or
  • three payslips if you are paid every two weeks;
  • if you are self-employed, we need to see your recent accounts. If you cannot provide them, get in touch with us for more advice.

Your payslips must be the most recent ones when you make your claim.

What if I’ve just started work and I’m not sure what my wages will be?

In this case we can ask your employer to tell us what you are likely to earn.

Then, when you get your payslips, you can send them to us so we can reassess your earnings.

Do you ignore any of my earnings?

Yes, for Housing Benefit we ignore a set amount of your earnings every week. The amount we ignore depends on your circumstances.

We count the money you earn from work after money has been taken out for:

  • tax and National Insurance Link to External Website contributions; and
  • half of any money you pay into a pension fund.

We also 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.

And, if you work 30 hours or more (and, in certain circumstances 16 hours or more) we also ignore an extra amount from your earnings.

The disregard from your earnings for Council Tax Support is different. For more information go to Council Tax Support.

What other proof will I need to provide apart from earnings?

We need to see proof of any other income, for example Child Benefit, as well as any savings or investments you have.

We also need proof of your and your partner’s National Insurance number Link to External Website. We may also ask you to provide proof of identity for both of you.

Our form usually tells you what you need to provide, but if you’re not sure you can always contact us for help. Details are in the more information section.

I work and have a child. Do you take into account the childcare costs I have to pay?

Please contact us for more information.

Can I get advice on how much Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support I can get if I start work?

Yes, just contact us with details of your expected earnings and other income details and we should be able to give you an estimate of how much Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support (or both) you could get. You can also use the online calculator.

Is there any extra financial help available to help me back into work?

Yes there is.

If you go back to work and your Income Support Link to External Website, Employment Support Allowance Link to External Website, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance Link to External Website, Incapacity Benefit Link to External Website or Severe Disablement Allowance Link to External Website ends, you could be entitled to an extended payment of your Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support (or both) for up to four weeks.

You must have been receiving Income Support, Employment Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Incapacity Benefit or Severe Disablement Allowance for 26 weeks before starting work. And, the work should be expected to last for at least five weeks.

Make a claim for it with us or at Jobcentre Plus Link to External Website.

When will my benefit start?

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:

  • the date you think your benefit should start; and
  • the reason why you did not claim earlier.

If you get benefit from an earlier date, it is called ‘backdating’.

You must show that you had a good reason for not claiming earlier.

There are no backdates allowed in the Council Tax Support Scheme.

What should I do if anything changes when I’m getting benefit?

You should tell us straightaway if your circumstances change. It might affect how much you get, and if you don’t tell us you may lose benefit.

If you don’t tell us about a change, and we pay you too much benefit, you may have to pay it back.

What can I do if I don’t agree with your decision?

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.

Where can I get help?

You can always phone us for help and advice.

Or, you could contact your local citizens advice bureau Link to External Website or welfare rights service.

What if I want to comment on your service?

You should get in touch with us. We would like to know what you think about this leaflet or about the service we provide to you.

You’ll find our details in the more information section.

If you want more information

If you have any questions you can phone our Housing Benefit Section. The office is open: Monday 8.30am to 5.00pm Tuesday - Thursday from 8.30am to 1.30pm 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.