You may be able to receive Housing Benefit to help pay the rent for your home if you or someone who lives with you are on a low income.
Am I eligible?
You are able to make a claim for Housing Benefit if any of the following applies to you;
- If you are single and have reached pensionable age.
- If you are in a couple and both of you have reached pensionable age.
- You are in council placed emergency housing or certain types of exempt or specified accommodation (If you are receiving more than 'minimal care', support or supervision from your landlord or from someone on their behalf.)
If none of the above applies to you then you will need claim Universal Credit online.
If you are in any doubt whether you would be awarded Housing Benefit, submit a claim anyway. If the rules do not allow you to apply for the award, we will write to you and explain why.
How to apply
For more information about applying, see New benefits claims.
- Housing Benefit can financially covers both housing association rents and privately rented accommodation.
- Once you have completed the form you will see an evidence checklist, which lists the documents that you need to provide in order for us to assess your claim.
- You will receive a notification to tell you that we have received your application.
Our contact centres ordinarily provide support for people who do not have access to online facilities or who need assistance to make a claim. At this current time our offices are closed temporarily due to the measures put in place to prevent coronavirus spreading. We will continue to provide as much support as possible to our most vulnerable customers but this will be done remotely. If you are struggling to use our self service options, please contact our offices on 03004 560 560 to seek assistance. Please be aware we are experiencing high volumes of calls at this time so would ask that you use self service where possible.
Payments of Housing Benefits are paid directly into your bank account. If you do not have a bank account, you will need to open a new account. If you are currently living in a Housing Association property, we may be able to pay your landlord directly. Please indicate this request on your application.
If there has been a reason which stopped or delayed you applying for Housing Benefit you can ask for your claim to be 'backdated' so that it starts from an earlier date. You can only ask for a backdate of benefits if there is a good reason why you were unable to apply for your benefit earlier. For working age claimants, the maximum backdating period for Housing Benefit is 1 month from the date you make your claim.
In order for a claim to be backdated, we must be satisfied that:
You will need to show continuous good cause for not claiming earlier and we must be satisfied that your circumstances during this time were such that any reasonable person of your age and experience would also have failed to claim benefit.
You have to prove "good cause" but we must take account of all the facts of your case. Some examples of when you may have "good cause" are:
- if you did not immediately claim benefit after leaving the hospital
- if you were ill and had no-one to make a claim on your behalf
- if you did not understand that you could claim benefit perhaps because of age, inexperience or language difficulties
- if you have suffered a recent family bereavement
Under the Local Council Tax Support scheme for working age claimants, there is currently no facility to backdate so would encourage you to submit a claim as soon as possible to avoid any loss in entitlement.
Pension Age claimants
If you have reached the qualifying age for State Pension Credit we can backdate your benefit automatically to a maximum of 3 months from the date of your claim. You do not need to show good cause but you must provide proof of your income for the period of backdating.
How to make a claim for backdating
Normally we will start your claim from the Monday after we receive your letter. It is therefore very important that you get your letter to us as soon as possible because it affects the date your benefit claim will start from.
How your claim is dealt with
Your claim will be considered by a Benefits Officer. The more information and evidence you give in support of your claim the quicker a decision can be made. Sometimes it may be necessary to write to you for more information.
Your claim will be looked at within 1 month where possible and you will be sent a letter telling you of our decision. If we have decided that you have not shown "good cause" and that we cannot backdate your claim, the reasons for this will be explained in our letter. You will then have the right of appeal against our decision not to backdate your claim.
Discretionary Housing Payments
Discretionary housing payments are a grant assistance scheme to help people who receive Housing Benefit or Housing cost payments to cover the shortfall in their rent, on a short term basis.
To apply for discretionary housing payment, you must:
- be receiving Housing Benefit or
- be in receipt of Universal Credit with a housing cost element
Discretionary housing payments are not payments of housing benefit and there is only a certain amount of money available each year so it's important that you make your claim as soon as possible.
You can apply for discretionary housing payment by downloading and completing the pdf discretionary housing payment form (277 KB) . Alternatively, you can contact us on 03004 560 560 to request one to be sent to you in the post.
We aim to deal with your claim within 28 days where possible.
Extended Housing Benefit payments (when returning to work)
If some of your benefit entitlements come to an end because you have taken up employment, increased your hours of work or your earnings, you may be able to continue receiving Housing Benefit for an additional four week period.
To be eligible for extended Housing Benefit payments you or your partner must:
- be starting work or increasing your hours, and
- expect your new work or increased hours to last for 5 weeks or more, and
- have had an entitlement to Jobseeker's Allowance (income-based or contribution-based), Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance, Incapacity Benefit or Severe Disability Allowance for a continuous period of 26 weeks or more.
Extended Housing Benefit payments are automatically calculated and issued to you if you are eligible. If you think you are not receiving the entitlements and should be, please contact us.
What will happen next?
We will look at your claim and assess whether you are entitled to extended payments. If you are we will award 4 weeks Housing Benefit at the same rate you were entitled to before you started work. At the end of the extended payment period, we will work out your claim based on your new circumstances.
You may be entitled to Housing Benefit after your extended payment ends, or if you don't qualify for an extended payment, you may still be entitled to Housing Benefit once you have started work.
If we do not have evidence of your new income and full details of your capital, your claim will be suspended following the end of the extended payment period and we will request proof of all your income and full details of your capital. You may be asked to complete a change of income form.
If you do not qualify for an extended payment and you still want to claim Housing Benefit, your claim will be suspended following the change in your circumstances and we will request proof of your income and capital to work out your claim based on your new circumstances.
You must notify us straight away of any other changes in your circumstances that could affect your Housing Benefit.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have the sole responsibility for calculating whether a benefit cap will apply to you. The council administers the cap by reducing your Housing Benefit payments. The council has no discretion whether or not to apply the cap.
The cap is a limit on the total amount of benefit that people of working age can receive. The benefit cap means that working age claimants will be paid no more in benefits than the average of the net earned income of working households, even if their full entitlement would otherwise be higher.
More information on the Benefit Cap including who it does and does not affect along with a Benefit Cap calculator can be found at GOV.UK.