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Benefits - questions and answers

Housing Benefit is a benefit that is paid to help people on a low income to afford their rent. It will normally be paid to the applicant, but in some circumstances it may be paid directly their landlord.

Council Tax Support is a discount that reduces the amount of Council Tax to help people on a low income to afford their Council Tax.

The Council is responsible for working out how much Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support someone is entitled to. There are very strict rules about entitlement.

How much benefit am I entitled to?

See our benefits calculator for an estimate of how much Housing Benefit you may be entitled to.

Change of circumstance

If you have a change in your circumstance you must inform us immediately, delay in telling us may create an overpayment which you will have to repay.

Tell us about a change in circumstance

How to apply

You must fill in an application form which can be sent to you in the post or collected from the Customer Service Centre. Once the form is completed bring it to the Customer Service Centre where one of our advisors will check it and inform you of any addition documents you may need to provide.

How much of my savings are taken into account?

Saving less than £6,000 are not taken into account. 

For people over 60 years old:

  • When your savings are above £10,000 but below £16,000 we will calculate a 'tariff' income from savings. We will add £1 to your weekly income for every £500 your have above £10,000.
  • Once your savings are over £16,000 you will not qualify for Housing Benefit or Council Tax support (unless you are receiving Pension Credit Guarantee)

For people under 60 years old:

For Housing Benefit

  • When your saving are above £6,000 but below £16,000 we will calculate a tariff income. We will add £1 to your weekly income for every £250 your have above £6,000.
    Once your savings exceed £16,000 you will not qualify for Housing Benefit

For Council Tax Support

  • When your saving are above £6,000 but below £8,000 we will calculate a tariff income. We will add £1 to your weekly income for every £250 your have above £6,000,
  • Once your savings exceed £8,000 you will not qualify for Council Tax Support

Why do you reduce my Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support because I have someone who lives with me?

Anyone who lives with you and is over 18 who is not your partner, dependant child, joint tenant or sub-tenant, is called a "non-dependant" and they are expected to help towards your rent and Council Tax Support. An amount is taken from your Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support – even if you do not get any money from them. The amount that is deducted depends upon the non-dependant's age and income. 

If you disagree with the amount of Housing Benefit or Council Tax support given

You can request for the original decision to be revised and to be notified in writing of the reasons for the new decision. You will have to state why you disagree with the decision and provide documentary proof where necessary.  It is important that you ask for a revision straight away otherwise you may lose your right to challenge the decision.

What happens if you are paid too much Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support

You may be paid too much benefit if you do not tell us straight away about any changes to your circumstances. This is called an overpayment and you will normally have to pay the benefit back.

If you are still entitled to Housing Benefit we will normally take weekly deduction out of your Housing Benefit. If you are no longer entitled to Housing Benefit we will invoice you for the overpayment.

You may be able to agree an instalment plan by filling in an income and expenditure form if you cannot pay the whole amount straight away.

If you have received too much Council Tax Support your discount will be reduced and you will receive a new bill showing the extra Council Tax you will have to pay.

It can be a criminal offence if you receive too much Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support because you didn't tell us straight away about a change in your circumstances.  Make sure you always let us know as soon as anything changes.

Tell us if you have received an overpayment

If you need your Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support to be awarded from an earlier date

You can ask for your claim to be backdated up to 6 months, however you need to show a good cause for not claiming earlier. If you or your partner are aged over 60 you can request for the claim to be backdated for 3 months without having to show continuous good cause.

Further help with rent

We may be able to provide more help through a discretionary housing payment.

How to report someone who is claiming Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support they are not entitled to

Please see our Benefit Fraud page.