Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction information.

Housing and council tax benefitsWhat are Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction?

Housing Benefit is available to help you to pay your rent if you are on a low income. If you pay rent to a housing association or private landlord, the benefit is called rent allowance. Payments will normally be paid directly to you but in some cases we can pay your landlord.

Council Tax Reduction may be claimed by the person responsible for payment of the Council Tax for your accommodation. Your Council Tax bill will be reduced by the amount due to you. For more information click through to the Council Tax Reduction Scheme page.

If you have other adults living with you, who do not pay you rent, you may be entitled to an alternative maximum council tax reduction. This is an alternative to Council Tax Reduction, and is worked out using the income of all other adults in the property.

Housing Benefit is a means tested benefit and is administered by the Council on behalf of the Department for Work & Pensions. This benefit assists claimants on low incomes with payment of their rent.  The Council Tax Reduction Scheme, for working aged claimants, is determined and administered by the Council but for pension aged claimants is defined by Central Government and is designed to give broadly the same level of support provided with the previous Council Tax Benefit Scheme.

Note: Housing Benefit cannot assist with deposits or rent paid in advance.

Low income means people on Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance, low earnings, state benefits, retirement pensions etc.

Who can claim?

You can claim Housing Benefit if you have a liability to pay rent and / or Council Tax Reduction if you have a liability to pay to Council Tax. Complete the online benefits calculator for an estimate of the amount of benefit available to you.

Can I receive Housing Benefit if I sell my home and rent it from the new owner?

Housing Benefit can sometimes provide help with your rent in these circumstances, however certain conditions apply:

  • you must have sold your home at least five years prior to claiming, or
  • you must be able to show the council that you could not have stayed in your home without selling it.

A leaflet containing more information on "sale and rent back" is available in the downloadable documents section at the bottom of this page.

How to claim

There is no automatic entitlement to Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction, an application form along with supporting evidence must be submitted. Download the application forms from further down the page, or collect one from one of our Council Offices or the Department for Work & Pensions. If you are making a claim for Jobseekers Allowance or Pension Credit the agency handling your claim will forward your income details to the Council so that Housing Benefit can be calculated automatically.  However, you must claim Council Tax Reduction by contacting the Council directly. 

What supporting evidence is required?

There are a number of documents that must be provided in support of a benefit / reduction application to allow benefit / reduction entitlement to be determined.  All of these documents must be original.

Proof of identity and National Insurance Number

Claimants must provide evidence of identity and National Insurance number for themselves and their partner.  A leaflet listing some of the documents that are acceptable is available from the downloadable documents section at the bottom of this page.

Proof of income

If you are employed, you are required to provide five wage slips if you are paid weekly, two wage slips if you are paid monthly or three wage slips if you are paid fortnightly. Please note that we may need to make further checks if you only have hand-written wage slips. If you do not have wage slips, or they are hand-written, then an official letter from your employer may be acceptable.  The letter should include the following information:

  • The full name and address of your employer
  • The number of hours worked and the period covered
  • Gross income for the period and year to date
  • Income Tax deducted
  • National Insurance contributions deducted
  • Details of occupational pension or personal pension payments
  • Method of payment (for example, cheque, cash, BACS etc).

Alternatively we can send a 'Certificate of Earned Income' directly to your employer.  This form requests all the relevant earnings details that we require.                    

Proof of savings/capital

To establish your savings / capital, we will need to see your last two months' bank statements or the up to date pass books for each account that you hold, as well as details of any other investments you may have, for example; stocks and shares, PEPs, ISAs, Premium Bonds, National Savings Certificates, land or property etc.

Proof of rent

If you rent your home and wish to claim Housing Benefit, you will need to provide up to date proof of your rent. This is usually your tenancy agreement and rent book or a signed and dated letter from your landlord confirming the following:

  • The full name & address of your landlord and managing agent
  • Your tenancy start date and the term of the tenancy
  • The amount of rent payable
  • The frequency at which the rent is to be paid
  • Details of any services included in the rent (e.g meals, heating, lighting, hot water etc)
  • Details of any payments that have already been made (amounts and dates of the payments).

The application form states what supporting evidence is required to allow us to process a claim. These documents must be original; photocopies will not be accepted.

If you cannot provide evidence straightaway you should send in the form and submit the evidence later.

Receipts will be given for claims accepted at your local office, if requested.

When to claim

Entitlement to Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction normally start from the Monday following the receipt of an application form so if you think that you may be entitled, it is important that you claim straight away as the benefit / reduction can only be backdated if you can show that you had 'good cause' for not claiming earlier.

Benefit can only be paid if you are actually occupying the property. New tenants should make sure their claim is submitted the day they move in or their benefit will only start from the Monday after they claim. Existing tenants should claim as soon as possible as their entitlement will start from the Monday after they claim.

When does entitlement end?

Benefit is paid indefinitely until a person has a change in their circumstances which means their claim has to be cancelled, for example, when they move into residential care or out of the area.

Changes of circumstance

It is important that all changes of circumstance are reported to us within one calendar month of the change occurring. If the change is advantageous to the claimant, delaying in notifying us may result in loss of benefit.  If the change is likely to be detrimental to the claimant's benefit entitlement (for example, their wages have increased) an overpayment may occur if we are not notified immediately.

Note: Failure to report any changes that may result in a decrease in the amount of benefit / reduction awarded may lead to prosecution.

Will you qualify?

Whether you qualify for help depends on:

  • Your income
  • Your savings
  • The size of your family
  • The income of anyone else who lives with you, (such as grown up children or parents).

You will not be entitled to benefit if you have savings over £16,000, unless you are in receipt of the Guaranteed element of Pension Credit. Click here for more information on how capital may affect your Benefit Entitlement.

Generally speaking, people in receipt of Income Support, income based Jobseekers Allowance or the Guaranteed element of Pension Credit will qualify for maximum benefit, subject to non-dependant deductions and restrictions to the eligible rent. For further information on how Housing and Council Tax Reduction are calculated go to 'How Housing & Council Tax Reduction are calculated and paid'.

 


Downloadable Documents

All documents open in a new window.
File nameSizeApproximate Download time
Adobe PDF format - download the viewerDocuments Acceptable As Proof Of Identity in PDF format16 Kb2 secs @ 56k, 0 secs @ 2mb
Microsoft Word formatDocuments Acceptable As Proof Of Identity in Word format22 Kb3 secs @ 56k, 0 secs @ 2mb
Adobe PDF format - download the viewersale and rent back in PDF format70 Kb10 secs @ 56k, 0 secs @ 2mb
Microsoft Word formatChanges in circumstance form in Word format1442 Kb3 mins 26 secs @ 56k, 6 secs @ 2mb
Adobe PDF format - download the viewerApplication for Housing Benefit & Council Tax Reduction in PDF format3234 Kb7 mins 42 secs @ 56k, 13 secs @ 2mb

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 01900 702702
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Allerdale Borough Council
Allerdale House, Workington, Cumbria,
CA14 3YJ