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Housing Benefit FAQ

Frequently asked questions about Housing Benefit and Council Tax support

We have a range of guides to all aspects of housing benefits, find out more here or browse through our frequently asked questions below.



Housing Benefit can help you pay your rent if you are on a low income. You can claim if you have to pay rent for the property you live in. You may be a council tenant, pay rent to a private landlord or a Housing Association. Council Tax support can help you if you have to pay Council Tax on your home. These are both means tested benefits, which you may claim for if you are working full or part-time, self-employed, unemployed or retired. There are different rules if you are under or over 60 years old.

New claims will start on the date of occupation of your home, if you apply.

We may be able to pay your benefit from an earlier date, if there was good cause for the delay in making your claim. Benefit can be backdated for up to six months if you are not subject to pension age rules and three months if you are subject to pension age rules. The attached leaflet gives full details.

Backdated Benefits (pdf 455 KB)

The amount of benefit you could get will depend on your income and household circumstances. Your benefit might increase if you receive Attendance Allowance or Disability Living Allowance or it could be reduced if you have other people living with you who are not dependent on you.

Click here to visit our online benefits calculator.

Yes. Print off the form below, fill it in and sign it. You will also need to supply proof of all the information you have stated. Post the form to us or bring it into our office so we can check it.

Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support Claim Form (pdf 2.47 MB)

Most residents who are private sector tenants will fall under the Local Housing Allowance scheme. Click here for more information.

If you rent from the council any entitlement to Housing Benefit will be paid to your Rent Account every week, reducing how much you need to pay each week.

If you rent from a private landlord or Housing Association we will send you a cheque or a credit direct into your bank account every four weeks. In some circumstances you could have it sent directly to your landlord; please contact us for further information. Both you and your landlord need to agree to the payment in this way and sign a Direct Payment to Landlord form. These are available from the Benefits Section.

Any entitlement to Council Tax support is paid directly to your Council Tax account. If there is anything left to pay you will be billed for this amount in instalments.

It is important that you tell us about changes in your circumstances immediately.

If you are receiving pension credit you need to tell the pension service about changes to your income.

  • If the change means benefit has been overpaid you may be asked to repay this amount.
  • If you take more than a month to tell us of a change that may increase your benefit we may not be able to alter your benefit from the date of the change.

Examples of changes in income and family circumstances that could affect your Housing Benefit and Council Tax support:

  • change of address
  • changes in income or savings
  • when someone moves in or out of your home
  • when Income Support or Job Seeker's Allowance stops or starts

You should inform the council as soon as possible if your circumstances change and you think that it might affect the amount of Council Tax that you should pay. We want to know if:

  • someone moves into or out of your home (this may affect your eligibility to discount)
  • a disabled person moves into or out of your home (this may affect eligibility to Disabled Person's Reduction)
  • the status of someone in your household changes, eg, a student finishes their studies and starts work, or a child becomes 18 years old
  • your financial circumstances change (this may affect your eligibility for benefit)
  • there are any other changes that you think might affect your Council Tax bill

Click here for more information about reporting a change.

If you have received a decision about Housing Benefit or Council Tax support, you may want to know what you can do if you think it is wrong.

If you think the decision is wrong you can ask us to explain it. If you still think it is wrong after we have explained it to you, we will look at our decision again.

For some decisions, you can appeal to an independent tribunal. They can change the decision if they agree that it is wrong.

There are time limits for asking for decision to be looked at again and for appealing.

What If Benefits Decision Is Wrong (pdf 61 KB)

If someone is claiming benefit they are not entitled to, we need to know. Click here to be routed to the benefit fraud page. Here it will be explained how to contact our benefits fraud line or you can report a suspected fraud online. Both methods are confidential so you will not be contacted again by us for further information.

An overpayment is when benefit has been paid to someone but they are not entitled to it. In most circumstances the overpayment of benefit has to be paid back. Our page on Housing Benefit overpayment explains more about overpayments and whether they need to be paid back or not.

Housing Benefit is normally paid for the rent you pay on one home at a time. There are a few exceptions to this and you may be able to get extra help if:

  • you have moved into other rented accommodation due to fear of violence
  • you are a student or trainee, are one of a couple, and have to live in separate accommodation from your partner
  • you have a large family and the council have housed you in two homes
  • you have moved to a new home thatyou pay rent on and still have to pay rent on your old home
Housing Benefit Payment on Two Homes (pdf 260 KB)

Normally, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support can only be paid if you are actually living in the property you are claiming benefit for. But there are situations where we may still pay Housing and Council Tax Benefit if you are temporarily away from your home. Depending on the reason why you are away, we may be able to pay Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support for up to 13 weeks, or even 52 weeks in special cases.

Temporary Absence from Home (pdf 31 KB)

We can make discretionary housing payments if we decide someone needs extra help with housing costs. The payments are on top of any Housing and Council Tax Benefit that has been awarded. We only have a certain amount of money to spend on these payments.

Discretionary Housing Payments (pdf 1.87 MB)

Last updated on 16 March 2016