Housing Benefit

Housing Benefit provides financial help for those on low incomes who rent housing associations homes and privately rented accommodation*.

You can claim if any of the below apply:

  • If you are on a low income and liable to pay rent on your property.
  • If you are State Pension Credit Age
  • Living in accommodation where you receive care and support
  • If you have been placed in temporary accommodation 
  • If you have savings of less than £16,000

Everyone else requiring help with their housing costs should claim Universal Credit, you can find out more information here.

*Payments do not meet all housing costs and you would be expected to pay for items such as fuel, water rates, or meals if these types of services are included in your rent.

How can I apply?

If you have difficulty completing an online claim, you can seek help from our benefits team 03004 560 560.

  • You will be required to provide proof of all recent income (even if that income is another State Benefit) and savings for all the members of your family (includes 'non-dependants'). If you do not receive proper payslips, complete the Employers Certificate of Earnings form.
  • Provide evidence of identity for both you and your partner, to prove that you are who you claim to be and that you are actually living at the address on your application form.
  • Evidence would need to be provided, that you are being charged rent and that the arrangement is legally binding. (Complete a Proof of Rent form if you do not have a proper tenancy agreement.)

All the documents you provide must be original, we cannot accept photocopies. We would suggest that you personally take them to our offices in The Hive (The Hive Library, Sawmill Walk, The Butts, Worcester, WR1 3PD).

The date you send in your application may establish when your entitlement will start. Further information can be sent in up to 1 month after you have submitted your application.

Please visit the calculator on the Direct Gov website. 

Use an independent benefits calculator to find out:

  • what benefits you could get
  • how to claim
  • how your benefits will be affected if you start work

These are free to use, anonymous, and have replaced the Benefits Adviser service.

To use the calculator please visit the GOV.UK website. 

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have the sole responsibility for calculating whether a benefit cap will apply to you.  

We administer the cap by reducing your Housing Benefit payments. We have 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. 

Visit Gov.UK for more information on the Benefit Cap including who it does and does not affect along with a Benefit Cap calculator.

To apply for Discretionary Housing Payment, you must:

  • Be receiving Housing Benefit or
  • Be in receipt of Universal Credit with a housing cost element

DHPs provide additional payments if your Housing Benefit payments do not cover your total rent.

We look at your circumstances to decide whether to award you DHP, how much you will be paid and for how long.

You can apply for discretionary housing payment by downloading and completing the discretionary housing payment form.

Or you can get a form at any of our contact centres in Malvern and Tenbury Wells or contact us and we will send one out to you. We aim to deal with your claim within 28 days.

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 Disablement Allowance for a continuous period of 26 weeks or more.

Extended Housing Benefit payments are automatically calculated and issued to you should you be 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.

You can check your likely entitlement by using the online benefits calculator

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 of 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.

If you think that our decision about your Housing Benefit is wrong you can ask us to explain the reasons for the decision. The decision could be about:

  • The amount of benefit payable
  • The rent eligible for benefit
  • The calculation of a claimants income
  • The calculation and recovery of an overpayment
  1. If you want us to look at the decision again or if you want to appeal against it, you must do it in writing within one month of the date of the decision letter, not the date you contact the office.
  2. If you are still not happy after our reply, you can appeal or request a revision of our decision. You have one month from the date of the decision to write and ask us to look at it again.

(Some decisions, mainly administrative decisions, do not carry a right of appeal.  We will tell you if what you are disputing does not carry the right of appeal.)

Appealing against the Decision

If we have explained our decision or you have received a written statement of reasons explaining the decision and you still think it is wrong, you can appeal against it.

Please write to us detailing your appeal, your request in writing must be sent back to us within one month of the date of the decision letter.

  • If we agree that the original decision is wrong we will send you a new decision and your appeal will stop.
  • If we do not change the decision, your appeal will be sent to the Appeals Service.

An Appeal Tribunal which is made up of experts appointed by the Appeals Service will look at the appeal.

You will have the opportunity to choose how you would like the appeal to be looked at and whether you want to attend.

If you feel that the Appeal Tribunal's decision is wrong in law you can seek leave to appeal to the Social Security Commissioners.

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.

 If agreed, we can only backdate a claim a maximum of

  • 3 months if you are of pensionable age or
  • 1 month if you are of working age

In order for a claim to be backdated, we must be satisfied that:

  • You have shown 'good cause for failing to claim earlier and that good cause existed continuously during the backdating period (If you are a pension age claimant, you do not need to show good cause but you must provide proof of your income for the period of backdating)

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

Your claim must be made in writing to Revenues and Benefits, PO Box 11, Pershore, WR10 1PU or benefits@southworcestershirerevenues.gov.uk.

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 or to ask you to come in for an informal interview. Your claim will be looked at within 1 month 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.

Local Housing Allowance (LHA) replaces the old rent referral scheme with a system that values each individual property. This scheme means that you can find out how much LHA you could be entitled to, before you move into a property, based on the area in which the tenant lives and the number of people in the household.

Every property in the country will be included in a specific Broad Rental Market Area (BRMA), which shows the weekly Local Housing Allowance rates for each area. Wychavon District has the following areas:

  • Cheltenham
  • South Warwickshire
  • Worcester North
  • Worcester South

LHA uses size criteria for working out the amount of LHA that can be paid. One room is allowed as a bedroom for each of the following occupiers:

  • A couple
  • A single person aged 16 or more
  • Two children of the same sex under the age of 16
  • Two children of the same or opposite sex, under the age of 10
  • Any other child
  • Certain overnight carers
  • Foster children
  • Certain adult children who serve in the armed forces, who continue to live with parents

Single people (not a couple or living with dependent children) aged under 35 are only entitled to the Housing Benefit shared accommodation rate.

Exemptions from the Scheme

Some properties are exempt from LHA these are:

  • Tenancies with Registered Social Landlords (housing associations)
  • Tenancies that began before 15th January 1989
  • Supported Housing
  • Caravans, houseboats and hostels
  • If the rent officer decides that a substantial part of your rent is for meals that are cooked for you

Shared Accommodation Rates

You can find out your local shared accommodation rate using the websites below. You can also compare the shared accommodation rate with the one bedroom rate:

England: Directgov Local Housing Allowance Rates

Scotland: Local Housing Allowance Rates

Payments

Use the room calculator to find out the LHA rate for the property. The rate will be the maximum amount that you will receive, it may be reduced due to the amount of income and capital that you have. To calculate your final amount please use the benefits calculator.

LHA is paid directly into your bank account. If you do not have a bank account, you would need to open a new account.

Opening a bank account will help you to pay your landlord by direct debit or standing order. We will consider paying your landlord if you think that you will have difficulty with these arrangements. You can download and complete the application form for direct payments of housing benefit to your landlord.

Exemptions

This will not affect you if you:

  • rent from a local authority or housing association
  • are aged under 22 and have been in care
  • live in supported housing provided by a housing association, registered charity, voluntary organisation or a county council (in England)
  • get the severe disability premium in your benefit because you are entitled to the middle or higher rate care component of the Disability Living Allowance
  • need an extra bedroom for a carer who provides you with the overnight care you need but who doesn't normally live with you
  • have spent at least three months in a homeless hostel or hostel specialising in rehabilitating and resettling within the community. To benefit from this exemption you need to have been offered and accepted support services to enable you to be rehabilitated or resettled in the community
  • are managed under active multi-agency management under the Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements.
  • are from a tenancy that began before 15th January 1989
  • live in supported housing
  • are living in a caravan, houseboat, mobile home or hostel
  • have a rent officer that decides that a large part of your rent includes meals.

Further information

Alternatively, you can call the Housing Options Team for advice on 01684 579579. To make the most of the assistance the Housing Options Team is able to offer, it is important to seek advice as early as possible.

Alternatively, you can call the Housing Advice Team on 01386 565020. To make the most of the assistance the Housing Advice Team is able to offer, it is important to seek advice as early as possible.

Useful links:

An overpayment can happen if we pay you benefit that you are not entitled to.

For example, if you did not tell us that your income had increased and a recalculation of your claim means that you have been paid too much benefit, there will be an overpayment.

When an overpayment is discovered the following facts are established:

  • The period of the overpayment,
  • The amount of overpayment,
  • The cause of the overpayment.

The following decisions are then made:

  • Whether the overpayment is classed as recoverable,
  • Whether to recover the overpayment,
  • From whom the overpayment should be recovered.

Overpayment recovery

In most cases, an invoice will be issued. The council will normally take a weekly amount from the claimant's ongoing Housing Benefit, to recover the overpayment if they are still entitled.

The claimant must contact the council if they are having difficulty repaying the overpayment.

Housing Benefit usually starts the Monday following the date we receive a recognised application form. Payments are paid directly into your bank account. If you do not have a bank account, you would need to open a new account.