How to claim housing benefit, council tax support or Universal Credit

Find out how to make a new housing benefit, council tax support or Universal Credit claim, backdate a claim or claim in advance.

Making a new claim

You will need to get one of our claim forms. You can do this by:

If you can come in to the council offices with your claim form and all the documents we need to see, we can process your claim and tell you your entitlement while you wait - this will take around 30 minutes.

If you are disabled, and cannot get to us, we can visit you in your home. Call us to arrange this.

To make sure that a new claim starts from the correct date, please contact us to tell us of your intention to claim.

The date we use for the start of your claim is the Monday following the date we receive your application form. In certain circumstances we may be able to pay from an earlier date.

Universal Credit

Universal Credit has replaced the following benefits:

  • Income support (IS)
  • Income-based jobseeker's allowance (JSAIB)
  • Income-related employment support allowance (ESAIR)
  • Housing benefit (HB)
  • Working tax credit (WTC)
  • Budgeting loans (BL)

This affects new benefit claimants or if you have a change in circumstances.  Currently, it will only apply if you are on a low income, an unemployed jobseeker, below pension age and single with no children.  Universal Credit will be extended to other claimants over the next three years.

Please visit our Universal Credit page for more information and how to make a claim.

Information for migrants coming into the UK from the European Economic Area (EEA)

You will not be able to claim housing benefit if any of the following apply:

  • You are not entitled to public funds - for example income support, jobseeker's allowance, employment support allowance
  • You do not have permission from the Home Office to stay in the country. This is called 'leave to remain in the country'
  • You are being sponsored to stay in this country by another person living in the UK. This is called being subject to a maintenance undertaking

Restriction on migrants' access to housing benefit

You are not able to make a new claim for housing benefit for the first three months after you arrive in the UK, even if you get jobseeker's allowance.

To qualify to apply, you must have been able to support yourself (and your family if they live with you), earning at least £153 a week. Your earnings must also have been at, or above, that level for the three months before you claim  housing benefit.

If you are not sure if this affects you, please contact our Benefits team using the contact details on this page.

You can also find information on immigration status on the Visas and immigration  pages of the GOV.UK  website.

Completing and returning your claim form

You will have to fill out the claim form and return it to us with any evidence you need to provide to support your claim.

If you don't provide us with all the evidence we need when you first submit your claim, you must do so within one month. We cannot assess your claim until we have all the evidence we need.

Don't send valuable documents in the post. If you bring them into our offices, we will copy them and return them to you.

If you need help filling in the form or have any queries about the form or the evidence you need to provide, please contact us using the contact details on this page.

If you prefer, you can telephone us to make an appointment to have your request assessed while you wait.

Backdating a claim

You need to make your claim as early as possible to avoid missing housing benefit or council tax support.

To backdate your claim, we must be satisfied that:

  • You have a good reason for not claiming earlier
  • There was a good reason why you did not claim for the whole period, for which you want to backdate the claim

For example

  • If you did not immediately claim benefit after leaving hospital
  • If you were ill and had no-one to make a claim on your behalf
  • If you have suffered a recent family bereavement

Backdating for pensioners

If you or your partner, is of pensionable age, we can backdate your claim for a maximum of three months.

Backdating for people of working age

If you are not a pensioner, then the person who is making the backdated claim, must do so in writing and sign it.  We can only backdate a claim for a maximum of one month.

What happens if you make a backdated claim

We will consider your claim. The more information and evidence you give to support your claim, the quicker our decision will be. Sometimes we will ask you for more information.

We will write to you with our decision and reasons.

You have the right of appeal against any decision we make.

Claiming in advance

If you know you're moving to a new address, you can claim housing benefit  for up to 13 weeks (17 weeks if you're aged 60 or over) before you move. You will not usually get any money before you move in.

Your responsibilities when making a claim

When you make a claim for housing benefit and council tax support, you have certain responsibilities throughout the lifetime of that claim. Please read these conditions carefully before making your claim.

How we pay you housing benefit

We pay you every two weeks in arrears direct into your bank account. For the dates, please see our pdf icon Payment schedule from 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018 [58kb] document.

If we pay your landlord direct we pay every four weeks in arrears.

If you do not have a bank account, we may be able to make payments to a friend or relative. We cannot make payments into a Post Office account that your other benefits are paid into.

If you want to change the account we pay your money into, you will need to complete the pdf icon Change the account your money is paid into [132kb] form and return it to us.

How we pay you council tax support

If you are entitled to help, we will pay the council tax support directly onto your council tax account for the whole year. This means you will get a reduced council tax bill.  It will show on your bill as council tax support.

Reviewing your claim

To reduce the risk of fraud and error in the benefits system, we will regularly review your benefit claim to make sure that you are getting the right benefit.

We will select claims for review throughout the year with the aim of identifying undeclared changes in circumstances, such as unreported increases in income or savings and changes to the household such as people moving in or out.

Please do not wait for us to review your claim to tell us about a relevant change.  You may be running up a large overpayment that you will have to pay back later, or you could be missing out on support you are entitled to.

All claims will be subject to a review. We could review your claim in a number of ways:

  • Visit review - reviews carried out in your home
  • Telephone reviews - we will phone you to go through your details
  • Postal reviews - we will send you a form to complete and return to us
  • Office reviews - we will ask you to come into our offices and review your claim there

Remember, we will apply any unreported changes in your circumstances that lead to you getting less benefit from the date the change happened. This may end up in a large overpayment, which you will have to pay back.

If we find a change that  is beneficial to you, we will only be able to award extra benefit from the Monday after you provide us with the information and evidence of the change. This means that by not telling us about a change you could miss out on extra benefit.

If we cannot complete the review because we have not been able to contact you, or you have not responded to our letters, we will suspend your claim.

Please get in touch using the contact details on this page if you have any questions about your claim.

 
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