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Important Information About Making a Claim for Council Tax Reduction Scheme or Housing Benefit

Can I make a claim?

You can claim if:

  • you are on Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance, Pension credit, Employment Support Allowance or
  • you are on a low income

You cannot get Housing Benefit if:

  • you, or you and your partner between you, have more than £16,000 in savings (unless you are in receipt of pension credit guarantee). A partner is someone you are married to, or someone you live with as if you are married to them
  • you pay rent to a close relative who lives in the same home as you
  • you own the place where you live

If you are claiming Universal Credit, Housing Benefit will be included as part of your monthly payment. You will still need to -

Apply for Council Tax Reduction Scheme

You cannot get Council Tax Reduction Scheme if:

  • you, or you and your partner between you, have more than £16,000 in savings (unless you are in receipt of pension credit guarantee). A partner is someone you are married to, or someone you live with as if you are married to them

How do I claim?

If you have just claimed Job Seekers Allowance or Pension Credit the Department for Work and Pensions will send your online form to us for your Housing Benefit, please contact us if you have not received anything from us within 14 days.

If you claim Income support, Employment Support Allowance or are on a low income you need to fill in an application form for Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Reduction Scheme.

Documents you will need as Proof

Please take all the documents that apply to you when you make your claim, if there are any other documents needed the advisor will tell you what you need to provide or we will write to you if there is anything we need to check when we process your claim, please make sure you provide anything we ask for as it may stop your claim from being processed if we don't have the information. 

Checklist for Council Tax Reduction Scheme applications.

Checklist for Second Adult Rebate applications.

Checklist for Housing Benefit applications.

What if I earn money from work?

You must send us proof of the money you earn so we can work out your Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Reduction Scheme.

If you work for an employer

You will have to send us:-

  • your last 5 pay slips, if you are paid weekly
  • your last 2 pay slips, if you are paid monthly

If you have just started work, do not delay sending your form back. We will let you know what information we need. If you can't find your pay slips or they are handwritten you can ask your employer to -

Report a Certificate of Earned Income

If you are self employed

If you are self employed, please send us your most recent accounts or tax return. If you cannot do this, get in touch with us for more advice and we will send you a form to complete.

If you have a pension

If you pay money into a pension scheme, you need to send us proof of the payments you make and it will speed up your claim if you send proof of earnings and pension payments at the same time as you send the form.

If you cannot get hold of this information straight away, just send the form. If you don't, you will lose benefit but you must send this information as soon as possible. We cannot work out your benefit without it. 

Your Rent

You need to send us proof of how much rent you are charged. If you have a tenancy agreement, send it to us. If you do not have a tenancy agreement, ask your landlord or landlady to write a letter telling us:

  • his, or her, name and address
  • your name and address
  • how much rent you are charged
  • what date your tenancy started
  • what date you moved in to your home

What happens next?

When we get your claim form and relevant documents we will check whether we have everything we need to assess your claim. We will write to you if we require further information. If we have enough information we will calculate your benefit and write to you to advise you of your entitlement.

The under 35s

Single claimants under the age of 35 will be entitled to the shared accommodation rate of Local Housing Allowance

When does my benefit start?

Your benefit usually starts from the Monday after you contact us providing we get your claim form within one calendar month of that date.

If you think your Housing Benefit should start earlier

If you think your Housing Benefit should start earlier, you can say so on the form.

Please write down:

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

If you get benefit from an earlier date, it is called backdating. Your benefit can be backdated by up to 1 month for people of working age and 3 months for pensioners if you have a good reason for not claiming earlier.

If you think your Council Tax Reduction Scheme should start earlier you can say so on the form.  Please write down the date you think your Council Tax Reduction Scheme should start and the reason why you did not claim earlier.

How quickly will my benefit/discount be paid?

All claims are dealt with as quickly as possible. How long it takes to work out your claim depends on;

  • how quickly you send in all the information
  • how busy we are when you make your claim

How will I be paid?

We will normally pay you by BACS (bank transfer) every four weeks.

We usually have to pay your Housing Benefit straight to your landlord if you owe 8 or more weeks rent. Your Council Tax Reduction Scheme will be credited to your council tax account and a revised council tax bill will be sent to you.

How much benefit/reduction can I get?

The maximum amount of Housing Benefit you can receive will be decided by the number of bedrooms your household needs – not the number of bedrooms you have.

The amount of benefit you receive may reduce depending upon your income, savings and circumstances. You can get an estimate of your entitlement by using our Benefit Calculator.

Each year we will receive information from The Rent Service on the rates for different sized properties. The month the claim is made will set the rate used to calculate your Housing Benefit. The rate used to calculate maximum Benefit is normally set for twelve months but can be changed under certain circumstances.

A new chart of rates will be received each year starting in April.

The maximum Council Tax Reduction Scheme you can receive will differ depending on whether you are a pensioner or working age.  Please see the page relating to Council Tax Reduction Scheme for more details.

What happens if there are other people living with me?

If you have friends, relatives or anyone over 18 living in your home, you may get less benefit/discount. The amount may be taken out of your benefit for each non-dependant who lives in your home.

Non-dependants do not include:

  • your partner
  • a child you get Child Benefit for
  • people under 18 years old
  • people in full-time education
  • people on Youth Training Schemes

How is my Housing Benefit worked out?

If you get Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance (income based) or Employment Support Allowance (income based) you will get the full amount of your Local Housing Allowance after any non-dependant deductions have been taken off.

If you do not get Income Support , Job Seekers Allowance (Income Based), or Employment Support Allowance (income based) we work out your Housing Benefit by comparing the money you get each week with your 'applicable amount/living allowance'. Your applicable amount/living allowance 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 you are a one parent family.

If the money you get each week is less than, or the same as the applicable amount, you will get the full amount of Housing Benefit. If this happens you should claim Income Support as you may get more help.

What money is counted when my Housing Benefit is worked out?

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

  • tax
  • National Insurance, and
  • half of any money you pay into a pension fund

We also count any other money you have coming in.  This includes most State benefits, works pensions and any savings or capital you have.

We do not count:-

  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Mobility Allowance
  • War Widows Pension
  • War Disablement Pension
  • any maintenance payments you receive if you have dependant children

But we need to know if you get any of these, as you may get more benefit.

What happens if I have savings or capital?

Government rules say that if you (and your partner if you are a couple) have savings or capital of more than £16,000, you cannot get Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction Scheme (unless you are in receipt of pension credit guarantee). If you have £6,000 (for working age people) and £10,000 (for pension age) or less, it will not affect your claim.

If you have more than these amounts it affects how much Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction Scheme you will get.

How can I make sure I get the right amount of benefit?

We will send you a letter telling you how we worked out your benefit/discount. Please check the information in this letter very carefully. If there is anything you think is wrong, you must tell us straight away.

How to appeal

You can appeal if you think your housing benefit/Council Tax Reduction is incorrect. Please view our appeals procedure.

Help when you start work

If you have been getting Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance (income based), income related Employment Support Allowance (ESA) or Incapacity Benefit which stops because you or your partner have started work you may be able to claim an extended payment.

Report a change of circumstances

If you are entitled to the extended payment, your Housing & Council Tax Reduction Scheme will continue at the same rate as before for an extra four weeks.

If you move home during the extended payment period you may be paid a different rate.

The main qualifications for an extended payment are:

  • The job must be expected to last 5 weeks or longer
  • When the claim for extended payment is made the person claiming it must be aged under 60
  • You must have been receiving a qualifying benefit for at least 26 weeks before you start work

What happens if we pay you too much?

If we give you too much Council Tax Reduction Scheme or Housing Benefit, we call it an 'overpayment'.
If we give you too much Council Tax Reduction Scheme or Second Adult Rebate, we will send you a letter. The letter we send you will tell you:
  • why we gave you too much Council Tax Reduction Scheme 
  • how much the overpayment is
  • if you have to pay back the amount
  • how you can appeal if you think this is wrong

In most cases we will send you a revised Council Tax bill, and you will usually have to pay more Council Tax.

If we give you too much Housing Benefit we will send you a letter. The letter we send you will tell you:

  • why we gave you too much Housing Benefit
  • how much the overpayment is
  • how to pay this overpayment back
  • how you can appeal if you think this is wrong

Full Housing Benefit Overpayment Policy.

From time to time we may send you a review form. If you want to carry on claiming, fill in the form and return it to us as soon as you can. If you do not send us the form, your discount scheme/benefit will stop. 

This information is for guidance only. It does not cover all the rules for all the benefits for every situation, nor does it provide a full interpretation of the rules. It should not be treated as a complete and authoritative statement of the law.

If you need any further advice please contact us. 



Wyre Forest District Council