If you are on a low income, whether you are working or not, and need financial help to pay all or part of your rent or Council Tax, you may be able to get support by an award of Housing Benefit and/or from the Council Tax Reduction Scheme.
Who is eligible
You may get Housing Benefit if you pay rent and your income and capital (savings and investments) are below a certain level. You could qualify if you are out of work, or in work and earning a wage. There are also other factors that can be taken into consideration such as a disability.
Use the online benefits calculator to get an estimate of the benefits, including Housing Benefit, you may get.
You will not be entitled to Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction if any of the following apply:
- you are not the person liable to pay rent or Council Tax
- you have more than £16,000 in savings
- you are not a UK Citizen with some exceptions
- you live in the home of a close relative or you are a full-time student, unless you are a full time student who is also:
- Receiving Income Support
- or a lone parent or couple who are responsible for a child or foster child
- or disabled
- or under 19 and following a further (not higher) course of education
- or aged 60 or more.
Tell Us about 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... or you could have to repay an overpayment, a fine or face prosecution. If you are not sure what a change of circumstance is you must contact the Benefits section immediately or find out more here.
To tell us about changes you can -
Phone us - 01546 605512
Email us - email@example.com
Visit us - At your local customer service point
Self- Employed Claimants
If you are Self-employed, benefit may be awarded if you can supply evidence of your takings and expenses or a projection of what your Self-employed Income will be. You could also complete one of our Self-employed earnings information forms . Any entitlement will be based on the calculation of income from these records. Your local area office will photocopy your record books. You may be asked to supply these at regular intervals until your business is established and you have been trading for a full year.
Most full-time students over 21 cannot claim HB/CTR but there are exceptions for some students:
- Who are classed as vulnerable. i.e. If the student receives the disability premium
- Is a lone parent
- Have reached the qualifying age for pension credit
- Couples who are both students with dependant children
- Students under 21 and not in higher education
There are special rules for couples with children where one member is a full-time student.
Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction is means-tested, so what matters is how much money you have coming in, rather than whether or not you are employed. If you are unemployed, or are on a low wage, you may be entitled to housing benefit or council tax reduction. The best way to find out is to apply or use our online benefits calculator.
Claimants affected by size criteria changes
Some claimants are affected by Housing Benefit restrictions in the Social Rented Sector as a result of the number of bedrooms that they have in their properties and their household composition. Further information, advice and support about these changes are available here.
Claimants affected by the Benefits Cap
Some claimants are affected by the Benefits Cap, which limits the amount paid to working age people on certain benefits. The Benefits Cap rates will be changing again in November 2016. Further information about the Benefits Cap including advice and support is available here
A non-dependant is someone who lives with you as part of your family but is not your partner. Examples of non-dependants are adult sons and daughters, elderly relatives or friends. Boarders, sub-tenants and joint tenants are not usually classed as non-dependants. Normally, we take a certain amount off your weekly Housing or Council Tax Reduction for each non-dependant who lives with you. This amount is called a non-dependant deduction. The amount we take off your benefit depends on the circumstances of the non-dependant and how much income they get.
Rent Officer - Local Housing Allowance Rates
The Rent Officer sets the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates for private rented property in Argyll and Bute. The LHA rates are set annually and are publicly available. They also decide an appropriate rent for certain properties such as caravans, mobile homes etc.
A Pre-Tenancy Determination (PTD) can be set by the local Rent Officer and is used for properties such as caravans, hostels and accommodation providing at least 2 meals per day. It states the maximum rent which we will use to work out your Housing Benefit.
Once the rent level is set, unless there is a major change in the terms of the tenancy or household composition, or a change of address, it will remain at that level for 12 months.
In order to appeal against a Rent Officer's decision, you must be resident in the property, and submit a written appeal to Argyll and Bute Council telling us why you think the decision is wrong. The council will then ask the Rent Officer to review the decision.
You cannot appeal the Local Housing Allowance rate.
You should note that if you are single and under 35, you will generally receive Housing Benefit based on the cost of renting single room accommodation with shared use of a toilet and kitchen facilities but without board. This means that the rent your landlord is charging may not be completely covered by Housing Benefit.
Additional help - Discretionary Housing Payments
If you are currently claiming Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction and are having difficulty paying the rest of the rent or council tax, then you may be entitled to Discretionary Housing Payments.
Another source of advice for money, health and many more topics are available on the Argyll and Bute Advice Network (ABAN) website.
How to appeal
When you get a decision in writing from us about Housing Benefit you can ask us to look at it again. If we do not change the decision you may be able to appeal to an independent tribunal. The letter telling you about the decision also tells you if you can appeal and the leaflet attached below also explains the options open to you to appeal the award that has been made.