Please see our Benefits advice page for advice, guidance and assistance with the full range of welfare benefits. You can also use the benefits calculator to find out how much Housing Benefit Council Tax Support you may claim.
What is Housing Benefit?
Housing Benefit helps you pay your rent if you are on a low income. The amount of housing benefit due to you is worked out by looking at:
- How much money you have coming in.
- Personal circumstances and the amount of rent you have to pay.
- The amount of savings you have (more than £16,000 will normally disqualify you).
- The number of bedrooms and occupants in the property (download our guide to this)
Try the benefits calculator to see what help you can get.
Who can claim?
- Anyone who pays rent – you must be living in the property as your home.
- You must be responsible for paying the rent or council tax
- Tenants living in council property, privately rented accommodation (the allowance for these tenants is known as Local Housing Allowance (LHA) and the rates are set separately (download our sheet on current LHA rates), hostels and housing association accommodation.
Housing Benefit is affected if somebody is a Student or self-employed or a person from abroad.
If you are of working age it is likely you will need to claim Universal Credit for help with your housing costs. You should claim Housing Benefit if you
- live in supported accommodation
- have been placed in temporary accommodation by the council's housing team
- have the Severe Disability Premium included in your assessment for any of the previously mention benefits (from 16 January 2019)
- are of state pension age
If you need help with your rent and do not meet the above criteria please visit our Universal Credit webpage for further information on the support available
53 Week Year - Advice and Guidance
Universal Credit is paid on a monthly cycle. Where a tenant has a weekly rental liability, they will have to make either 4 or 5 rent payments in any one month.
This means that claimants are ‘overpaid’ by UC in months where they have to make 4 rental payments and ‘underpaid’ where they make 5, but over time this broadly balances itself out, however, in the financial year 2019/2020 there are 53 Mondays.
Having 53 rent days does not mean paying more rent over a year, as most of the final payment will cover the first week’s rent for the following year.
Some tenants may be potentially affected by this. If you:
- are in receipt of the Housing Element of Universal Credit and;
- are charged rent weekly and;
- have to pay rent on a Monday on Tuesday of the week
then this situation could affect you, and you need to start preparing in advance
Gloucester City Homes have some useful advice about preparing for this situation – click here - https://www.gch.co.uk/news/be-prepared-for-paying-rent-in-the-53-week-year/
Please note - Housing Benefit recipients are unaffected by the number of weeks in a year as Housing Benefit is normally paid every four weeks – regardless of when a tenant’s rent is due/how many ‘weeks’ there are in that year
Here is the Government advice to landlords about this -
If you are experiencing difficulty paying your rent, please contact your landlord directly in the first instance.
If you are experiencing a temporary difficulty in paying your rent, you may be eligible to apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment – please click here for further information.
For further help and advice with budgeting please click here
Benefit cap changes in Autumn 2016
From November 2016 the Government is changing the benefit cap. Find out about the benefit cap.
You can find out if you might be affected by the new benefit cap by using the benefit cap calculator.
Generally, full-time students are not eligible for Housing Benefit. You may be able to get Housing Benefit if you are a student:
- and disabled
- or have children
- or are of pensionable age (over 60 years)
- or getting Income Support
If you want to claim Housing Benefit fill in a Student form with your new claim form.
You can apply for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Rebate if you or your partner are self-employed. To work out your benefits we will need:-
- Weekly earnings figures (after tax) from your business including any other income. To work out your weekly earnings you can use this useful form.
- You must fill in a self-employment form as well as the benefit application form.
- Your latest original audited self employed accounts. If you do not have any prepared accounts then we will need to ask you about your business expenses and earnings. There is a section on the self-employed form for you to disclose this information.
Note: If you have not been trading for a full year, we need you to give us the information for the time since your business started up to current day.
Persons from Abroad
Persons from abroad include persons who are not British citizens, and persons who have recently come to the United Kingdom.
Persons from abroad can be eligible to make a claim for Housing Benefit/Council Tax Support. In order to get benefit you must prove that you have leave to remain in the country and also satisfy the ‘habitual residency test’ along with other conditions.
Most people who are citizens of EU countries and who are ‘workers’ are entitled to benefit, however, the rules are complex.
If you are having trouble paying your rent or council tax and are not sure if you are eligible for help, make a claim.
More information can be found through the Citizens Advice Bureau.
Do savings affect my claim?
Housing Benefits is affected if you have savings. If you and your partner have over £16,000 in savings and investments you will not qualify for any help towards your rent or Council Tax unless you are in receipt of a state pension guarantee credit. For further information please see the section on Pension Credits (link to pension credit info on Benefits advice).
If you and your partner are under 60, we do not count the first £6,000 of your savings and investments, and for every £250 over this level we will add £1 to your income.
If you or your partner are 60 or over, we do not count the first £10,000 of your savings and investments, and for every £500 over this level we will add £1 to your income.
If you and your partner receive Income Support or Jobseeker's Allowance (income based) we do not count any savings and investments you have.
How do I claim?
To claim Housing Benefit you need to fill in an application form. The quickest and easiest way to apply is by completing our online form or alternatively you can:-
- Phone 01452 396 440 and request an application be sent to you
- email firstname.lastname@example.org and request an application form be sent to you
- Please note that by a partner we mean a person you are married to or a person you live with as if you are married to them, or a civil partner or a person you live with as if you are civil partners.
Non dependent is not a partner, a child or young person from the family for whom Child Benefit is in payment or a foster child/young person living in the property, a boarder, joint tenant, tenant or sub-tenant, or a carer.
Things to remember
- Complete your application in as soon as you can - online is best .
- Provide all the supporting evidence, we cannot pay your benefit until we have seen all the evidence we have asked for.
- Use the same form to claim help towards Council Tax (Council Tax Support)
Please note that you must provide original documents, not copies. We cannot pay your benefit until we have seen all the proof we have asked for.
To make sure your Housing Benefit starts from the earliest date possible, you should contact us as soon as you need benefit to tell us that you plan to claim.
Benefit Payment Dates
The payments for Housing Benefit are made 4 weekly in arrears.
What can I do if my claim is refused?
If you are not happy with our decision about your claim for Housing Benefit, you can make an appeal by contacting our Benefits team via email email@example.com or phone 01452 396 440.
Benefit fraud is when somebody knowingly or dishonestly gets more benefit than they are entitled to. It is a criminal offence to claim benefits when you are not entitled to them. Anyone who has committed fraud can be prosecuted, and if convicted, they will have a criminal record. Some typical examples of this are when somebody:
- Fails to tell us about a change of circumstances that will affect their entitlement
- Gives false information in relation to their claim.
- Misses out information from their claim
We detect fraud using a variety of means. One way is being informed directly by members of the public. The more information and detail you give us, the more likely it is that we will be able to investigate.
Your details will be kept confidential and you do not need to tell us your name, unless you want to. The person you are reporting will not be told about your involvement and you would not be needed as a witness, if the case went to court.
You can report benefit fraud to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) by telephone, using number 0800 854 440, or through DWP's website
Reporting benefit fraud email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Phone Gloucester City Council Investigations Team on the confidential hotline: 01452 396 173 or write to:
The Investigations Team,
Gloucester City Council
PO Box 2017