Housing benefit and council tax reduction

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If you are on a low income, you may be entitled to help with your rent or council tax.
 

Help with your rent and council tax

If you think you need help with your housing or council tax, please contact our Benefit team on 01684 272035 and ask for a trial calculation to see if you qualify. If you do qualify, an application form will be sent to you.

Please remember that any delay in claiming will mean that you may lose out on benefit to which you are entitled.

Find out more at about benefits and financial support at: gov.uk/benefits-adviser.
 

Local housing allowance (housing benefit)

Housing benefit in the private rented sector changed from 7 April 2008 to local housing allowance (LHA)

LHA will only apply for private rented accommodation for new claims or claims where there has been a change of address. Social housing is not included in the rules for LHA. The amount of housing benefit payable will be determined based on the size of the family and the locality they are in.

Find out more about LHA rate at: voa.gov.uk.
 

Making a claim

You will be required to fully complete a claim form and provide original documents to support your claim as asked for on the application form. If you do not, your claim will not be accepted and will be returned to you and we will be unable to pay your benefit. When we have checked and verified all your details we will assess your claim and write to you with a decision.

If you have not heard from us within 21 days of making a claim, you should contact the office immediately to check that we have received your form.
 

Changes in your circumstances

It is very important that you tell our Benefit team about changes in your circumstances. Your claim will be suspended until your change has been made. Not only does it prevent overpayments but it also ensures that you receive the money to which you are entitled to. If the change increases the amount of benefit you should receive you will not get the increased entitlement from the date of change unless you tell the council within one month of that change.  

Please download the change in circumstance form and send it in to: Benefit Team, Tewkesbury Borough Council, Freepost GL77, Gloucester Road, Tewkesbury, GL20 5BR.


Payments

Housing benefit payments are made by BACS. Payments are made every four weeks in arrears.
 

Overpayments

If you are paid too much housing benefit or council tax reduction an overpayment occurs. Council tax reduction overpayments are collected through your council tax account, increasing the amount you need to pay. You will be sent a bill with the new amount and details of any revised payments. You will need to contact our Council Tax team on 01684 272034 if you wish to discuss the instalments shown on your bill.

Housing benefit overpayments are recovered either by deduction from your ongoing housing benefit, if you are still entitled, or by sending you an invoice. You can either pay the invoice in full, or in monthly/weekly instalments by contacting 01684 272081 or make an appeal if you do not agree with the amount. If you fail to repay the amount, further recovery action will be taken against you, which will incur costs.
 

Vulnerable tenant

Where tenants are considered vulnerable, direct payments can be made to the landlord. It is our decision whether to treat a claimant as vulnerable. Payment can still be made to a landlord where the tenant is eight weeks in arrears with their rent as currently permitted under the housing benefit regulations.

If you want to find out more about local housing allowance or payment of benefit, please phone us on 01684 272035 or email our Benefits team on benefits@tewkesbury.gov.uk
 

Backdating

Sometimes you can get housing benefit for a period before you put in your claim. This is called backdating.

When you make your claim you will be asked to provide details of your circumstances during this past period to enable us to make an assessment

From 1 April 2016, claims from working age claimants can be backdated for up to one month from the date you make your request. 

If you made your request before 1 April 2016 your claim could be backdated for up to six months.

You must show a good reason for claiming late. We look at all your circumstances during the time you delayed making a claim to decide if the delay was reasonable.

You are generally expected to seek advice if you have trouble making a claim.

Good reason can include if you have:

  • been unwell or had a trauma or bereavement
  • not understood your rights
  • difficulty communicating in English or with reading or writing

Claims for backdating from people of pension credit age should automatically be backdated for up to three months.

Your claim for housing benefit will not be backdated for the full three months if you were not of pension credit age or paying rent on your current home for all that time.

You don't have to:

  • Ask the council to backdate your claim.
  • Give reasons for not claiming in time.

If you or your partner have reached pension credit age but are getting income support, income-based JSA or income related ESA, your claim can only be backdated for up to one month (or six months if you claimed before 1 April 2016) if you can show you had a good reason for making a late claim.

You are responsible for making your claim. If you posted your form or asked someone else to help, you are expected to check your claim arrived.
 

Appeals

Applicants have the right to appeal against any decision made about their claim provided it is made within one month from the date on the decision letter. Appeals must be made in writing to us. If you are a landlord you can only appeal against the decision whether or not to make payment directly to you, or whether to recover an overpayment from you. The time limit of one month also applies to landlords.
 

Discretionary housing payments

If you receive housing benefit which does not meet the full amount of your rent, you can apply for discretionary housing payments.

You will be required to give a breakdown of your income and expenditure before any consideration is made. You can apply for discretionary housing payments by contacting our Benefit team on 01684 272035.

Discretionary housing payments may be given for a limited period if we consider it appropriate in your circumstances. However this is a cash limited budget and the decision whether to give any additional payments is solely at the discretion of ourselves and does not have the same appeal rights as for housing benefit and council tax reduction.
 

The Valuation Office Agency

The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) is an executive agency of the Department for Work and Pensions. The VOA provides valuations for local authorities in England, for use in the assessment of claims for housing benefit where the tenant is renting from a private landlord, in cases such as caravans, house boats (including mooring charges) and mobile homes. The determination will usually run for 12 months. 

Find out more about the Valuation Office Agency.


Contact us

Council Office Opening Hours

  • Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: 8:30am to 5pm
  • Friday: 8:30am to 4pm

Email: benefits@tewkesbury.gov.uk
Telephone number: 01684 272035