Housing benefit and council tax reduction

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Help with your rent and council tax

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

If you think you need help with your rent 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.

If you need help with your rent you may now need to claim for Universal credit rather than Housing benefit.

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: www.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: www.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 may 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.


Payments

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

Overpayments

If your Housing Benefit claim has been cancelled an invoice will be issued to you requesting you to pay the balance in full or to make an arrangement. If you want to discuss a repayment plan you will need to contact 01684 272137 or to email HBOP@tewkesbury.gov.uk.

If you are still receiving Housing Benefit the overpayment will be recovered by making deductions from your ongoing entitlement. You will be notified in writing of how much we will be recovering each week.

If the overpayment relates to council tax reduction, we will send you a revised council tax bill. If you are unable to pay the monthly instalments you will need to contact the Council Tax team on 01684 272034 or email revneues@tewkesbury.gov.uk.

How will the Council recover the overpayment?

If you do not respond to our attempts to contact you regarding your invoice, it may be referred to the following;

  • Direct Earnings Attachment

  • Attachment to DWP benefits

  • Collection by other Local Authorities

  • Collection Agents

  • Requesting a County Court Judgement

Refunds

If there is a debt outstanding within the Council we will be unable to refund you any money as the credit will be used to go towards the amount you owe.

Debt advice  

If you need advice or support with dealing with your debts, CAB holds drop-in sessions within Tewkesbury Borough Council on Mondays from 12noon until 2pm and on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am until 12noon.

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.

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.

Claims for backdating from people of state pension age should automatically be backdated for up to three months. Claims for working age people can only be backdated for a maximum of one month.

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 policy for assessing discretionary housing payments can be found below.


Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

How can I repay my overpayment?

I can't afford the repayments, what can I do?

If we are making deductions from your Housing Benefit and you feel the deduction is causing you extreme financial hardship, you can ask us to reconsider the level of deduction we are taking by completing an income and expenditure form.

What is a Direct Earnings Attachment?

A Direct Earnings Attachment (DEA) is a method of debt recovery used by councils to recoup housing benefit overpayments. Employers are required to pay amounts from the salary of their employees direct to the Council until the debt is paid.  HB attachment of earnings employers guide (doc, 55 KB).

 How much will be deducted through my DWP benefits?  

A DWP assessor will decide on how much can be deducted from your benefits. If the deductions are leaving you with little to live on, it may be possible for them to be made at a lower rate. You will need to discuss the deductions with your work coach at Jobcentre Plus or an adviser on the universal credit helpline.


The Valuation Office Agency

The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) is an executive agency of Her Majesty's Revenues and Customs. 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

Public Services Centre opening hours:

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

  • Friday: 8:30am to 4pm

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