Housing benefit can be confusing. Here are some of the frequently asked questions (FAQs) that we're asked.
Can I claim housing benefit?
You can claim housing benefit if you are a council tenant, private tenant, housing association tenant, sub-tenant or lodger.
The amount you will receive will be based on your income and circumstances.
You cannot get housing benefit if:
How do I make a claim?
Can I claim housing benefit if I work?
Yes you can claim housing benefit if you work and receive a low income.
We will need to see proof of your earnings and capital/assets. You will need to provide:
Can I claim if I am self-employed?
Yes, you can claim housing benefit if you are self-employed and receive a low income from your business. You will need to send us your most recent accounts, with your claim form if possible, and we will also send you our self-employed information sheet to complete. If this is a new business we will require a figure of projected earnings over a 13 week period. You will also need to provide your last two months bank statements.
What other proof do I need to provide?
You need to provide proof of all income and capital in respect of yourself, your partner and anyone who lives with you who is aged 18 or over. You also need to provide proof of your identities and National Insurance numbers. The claim form will advise you what you can provide as proof.
What do I need to provide as proof of rent?
You need to send us proof of rent, which confirms the following information:
You may need to provide more than one type of proof of rent. For example, if your tenancy agreement does not contain the above information we may need a letter from your landlord to confirm the other information (on letter headed paper).
Does the amount of capital/assets I have affect my claim?
It will depend on the total amount of capital you and your partner have as to whether it will affect your benefit entitlement.
What happens if I have somebody aged 18 or over other than my partner living with me?
Non-dependants are usually adult sons, daughters, other relatives or friends who live in the person claiming housing benefit's household on a non-commercial basis.
Housing benefit will normally be reduced if a non-dependant lives in the household.
There is an expectation that non-dependants will make a contribution towards their costs including rent, council tax and food, etc.
The amount they pay towards the above is not taken in to account and instead standard deductions are made from the housing benefit entitlement.
The government set standard non-dependant deductions which normally increase each April.
Cases where a non-dependant deduction is not made
No non-dependant deductions will be made if the claimant or their partner:
Also no deduction is made where the non-dependant:
|Non-dependant deductions housing benefit||April 2016 deductions|
|Aged under 25 and in receipt of Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance (Income based), Universal Credit only or Employment and support Allowance (Income Related) which does not include an amount for the support component or work related activity component.||Nil|
|In receipt of Pension Credit||Nil|
|Aged 25 or over and on IS or JSA (I/B)||£14.65|
|Aged 18 or over and in receipt of Main phase ESA (I/R)||£14.65|
|Aged 18 or over, not in remunerative work AND does not claim the benefits stated in the first two fields||£14.65|
|Aged 18 or over and in remunerative work:|
|Gross income: less than £133||£14.65|
|Gross income: £133 to £194.99||£33.65|
|Gross income: £195 to £252.99||£46.20|
|Gross income: £253 to £337.99||£75.60|
|Gross income: £338 to £419.99||£86.10|
|Gross income: £420 and above||£94.50|
When will benefit be paid from?
Your benefit will usually start from the Monday after we receive your claim form. It is important that you return your claim form to us as soon as possible as any delay may result in you losing benefit. Please don't wait until you have all the proof needed to support your claim.
Can my claim be backdated?
Under pension credit qualifying age:
You will need to submit your request for backdate in writing, and be able to show that there was a good reason why you did not make your claim earlier. You can request backdated benefit on the housing benefit claim form, apply online or you can download the form below. Alternatively, you can request a backdate form from one of our customer service centres or by telephoning 0161 793 2500, or by writing to us with your details.
From 1 April 2016, any requests for backdated benefit (under pension credit qualifying age) may only be awarded up to one month earlier.
Over pension credit qualifying age:
If you claim housing benefit and/or council tax reduction we would normally start your benefit up to three months before the date you made your claim. We can only do this if you have to pay rent or council tax for this period and are entitled to claim. If this is the case, we will write to you to ask for further details if we do not have them.
What rent will you use to work out my benefit? (private tenants only)
Further information about local housing allowance.
a) Housing associations (including City West and Salix Homes) and Pendleton Together tenants - the rent we will use to work out your housing benefit entitlement will depend on the following:
b) People living in privately rented properties. If you live in private sector accommodation your eligible rent will be determined by the local housing allowance (LHA) rate which is appropriate to the size of your household and not the size of the property you live in. The LHA levels are set by the Rent Service who assesses the LHA for the area in which you live. You can find out LHA rates and more information.
How long is housing benefit paid for?
Housing benefit is awarded for as long as entitlement remains. From time to time we may need to confirm details of your claim and we will contact you where this is necessary or we may arrange to visit you. It is very important that you let us know of any changes to yours or your households circumstances eg changes in income (amount or type), someone moves in or out of the household etc as this could affect how much you are entitled to receive.
How will housing benefit be paid?
What happens when you receive my claim?
When we receive your claim we will check the form and the proof that you have provided. If we have all of the information we need we will process your claim as quickly as possible and inform you of the outcome of your claim.
If we need any further information we will phone or write to you. You will have one calendar month to provide us with any additional information that we request or for you to advise us when the information will be available. Failure to do this may result in you losing benefit.
What happens if I don't agree with your decision?
When we have decided your claim we will send you a notification letter, which will advise you of the outcome. The letter will include all of the details we have used to work out your benefit entitlement so it is important that you check that the information is correct. You must let us know within one month if you do not agree with the decision we have made in your case, see our how to appeal a decision page.
What happens if my circumstances change?
If your circumstances change, you need to let us know straight away. Otherwise you may receive too little or too much benefit.
It is an offence not to tell us about any change of circumstance that affects your benefit. This must be done in writing. For more information, go to our change in circumstances page.
I have started work, what do I need to do?
Notify us as soon as possible by calling 0161 793 2500, or use our benefits enquiry form or write to us at the address below.
If you have been on Income Support, Income Based Jobseekers Allowance, Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance for 26 weeks or more, immediately before starting work, you may be entitled to an Extended Payment of housing benefit.
This means that for the first four weeks after you start work you will continue to receive the same amount of housing benefit that was in payment before starting work.
Extended payment (EP): To claim your EP, you shouldn't need to do anything. If you've been in receipt of Income Support or Income Based Jobseekers Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance as we can process your EP using the information from the Department for Work and Pensions when they tell us you have started work. If you are getting Incapacity Benefit or Severe Disablement Allowance and you make an in-work claim for housing benefit we will consider making an EP award. However, if you do not intend to make a claim when you start work and think you should get an EP award please contact us by calling 0161 793 2500.
You may also be able to get an extended payment of council tax reduction to cover council tax.
Making a further claim for housing benefit after starting work
If you or your partner start work and will receive a low wage you may still be entitled to housing benefit. You will need to complete a change of circumstances form giving details of change and provide proof of your earnings and other income.
Where you have not yet received your first wage from your new employer, we will need to determine what your likely weekly gross earnings, Income Tax and National Insurance deductions will be. You can download a change of circumstances form and estimated earnings certificate.
When you have received your first wage slips you need to send them to the benefit section so that we can check that we have used the correct information to work out your entitlement to housing benefit.
Can I get any extra help in paying my rent?
If you do not qualify for full housing benefit, it may mean that you have to pay something towards your rent.
You may be able to get a discretionary housing payment to help towards these payments.
Contacting the benefits service
If you are unable to view documents of these types, our downloads page provides links to viewing software.
This page was last updated on 12 April 2017