About your Claim for Housing/Council Tax Benefit
Changes in Circumstances
This is a change in your personal or financial circumstances which may or may not affect your entitlement to Benefit. You must contact us at once if your circumstances change. If you are not sure what a change of circumstance is you must contact the Benefits section immediately.
Change in circumstance can include:
- you change your address
- you start or stop getting Income Support or Income Based Jobseekers Allowance
- your income and/or capital changes
- the income and/or capital of your children or other people in your household changes
- anyone joins or leaves your household
- you or your partner go into hospital for more than four weeks or long term care in a nursing home.
A change in your circumstances must be notified to us within 1 month from the date of the change.
When you apply for Housing/Council Tax Benefit, you will sign a declaration which confirms that you will tell us of any change in your personal circumstances which may affect the payment of your claim. It is important that you tell us of any changes immediately to make sure that the correct amount of Housing/Council Tax Benefit is awarded to you. It is your responsibility to tell us of any change in your personal circumstances.
If you are away from home and intend to return home then you should tell us, as you may still be able to claim. Normally Housing Benefit can only be paid for absences up to 13 weeks and you must contact us before you go away. If you go into hospital for a long time, your housing benefit will be only be paid for a maximum of one year (52 weeks).
If you disagree with a decision you have the right to challenge it. This is called 'requesting a reconsideration', and must also be done in writing within one month of the original decision being made. You also have the right to 'appeal' against a decision and to have your appeal heard by the Tribunals Service at an Appeal Tribunal.
If you think we have made a mistake in assessing your benefit, or if you do not understand how your claim was calculated, you can telephone, call in or write to the Benefits Section for an explanation. This is called a 'statement of reasons'.
Claiming for Two Homes
Usually you can only receive Housing Benefit for your main home. You may be able to claim for two homes if you have had to leave home because of actual or threatened violence, if you have moved but have to pay rent on your old home at the same time (for up to four weeks only), or if you are a qualifying student or trainee who lives away from home.
Second Adult Rebate
If you have been receiving a 25% Single Person's Discount on your Council Tax and your unemployed son or daughter returned home to stay with you, you can make a claim for what is known as a second adult rebate. This is done on the normal benefit application form. You can claim this because your family member is unemployed and therefore has a low income. If you are not sure whether you may be entitled to ordinary council tax benefit you can claim both. The council will work out your entitlement under both schemes and you will be awarded the one most beneficial to you.
Discretionary Housing Payment
If you have been awarded some Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit but still have some rent or Council Tax to pay which can’t afford you could apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment(DHP). This is an extra payment that is available to claimants who are experiencing hardship and require some extra financial assistance in order to meet their housing costs. To apply you must complete an application form and you will be expected to provide proof of all your income and expenditure. This is normally awarded for a set period but you can re-apply if you are still experiencing hardship. There is no guarantee that DHP will be awarded.
Extended Council Tax or Housing Benefit Payment
When your Income support/Jobseeker’s allowance ends as you have started work or increased the hours that you work, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit extended payments can help you to meet your housing and Council Tax costs for up to four weeks during the period between the last payment of Income Support or Jobseeker's Allowance (income based) and receipt of your first wage. From April 2004 the extended payment scheme has been widened to include some claimants who are in receipt of Incapacity Benefit and/or Severe Disablement Allowance. A qualifying condition is that you have been in receipt of Income Support/Job Seeker's Allowance (income based)/Incapacity Benefit/Severe Disablement Allowance for 26 weeks or more and that you must notify the Local Authority or Department of Work and Pensions of your change of circumstances within 4 weeks of the change. Your job must also last for 5 weeks or more.
Overpayment of Benefit
If we give you too much benefit or Second Adult Rebate, we will send you a letter. When we give you too much benefit, we call it an overpayment.
The letter we send you will tell you:-
- why we gave you too much benefit
- how much the overpayment is
- if you have to pay back the amount
- how you can appeal if you think this is wrong
For Council Tax Benefit, in most cases we will send you a revised Council Tax bill, and you will usually have to pay more Council Tax.
For Housing Benefit, if you are still in receipt of benefit payments we will take back the overpayment by weekly deductions from your ongoing entitlement. If you are no longer in receipt of Housing Benefit we will issue you with an invoice detailing where and when payment should be made.
In the case of private tenants, we will notify you and your landlord of who we will take the overpayment back from.