Frequently Asked Questions

Before contacting us, check this section to see if it answers your query

Who can’t claim Housing benefit?
You can't claim if you:

  • don't pay rent
  • rent a former joint home from your ex-partner (there are some exceptions in these cases) 
  • rent from a close relative who lives in the same home as you or the tenancy is not on a commercial basis
  • are the parent or guardian of your landlord's child
  • live in your home as part of your job
  • live in a care home, such as a nursing home or old peoples' home
  • your partner, or both of you together, have more than £16,000 in savings (except for some pensioners)
  • were previously a non-dependant in that property*
  • some students
  • some people from abroad                                                                                               

This is not a complete list, so for further information please contact us direct. 

How is Housing Benefit calculated?
It is a means-tested benefit, which means that how much you get depends on: your income and circumstances, who lives with you, any other benefits you receive, and any savings you have. If you have a partner, your combined income and savings will be taken into account. Housing Benefit can pay for part or all your rent, but not for other costs - for example, fuel or meals. Any other adults living with you can affect how much Housing Benefit you receive.

How long will it take to process my claim?
We must process your claim within 30 days or as soon as possible after that period.  It could take longer if you haven't provided all the supporting evidence we asked for, or if we need to contact you again to get more evidence.

How is Housing Benefit paid?
Housing Benefit is paid directly into your bank account (or into the account of your landlord in certain situations).

When will I receive my Housing Benefit payment?
Your first Housing Benefit payment will be made as soon as possible after your claim has been assessed. Further payments are made 4-weekly in arrears. Payment usually arrives in your bank account on a Wednesday, but it can be on a different day if there is a Bank Holiday, or if unforeseen delays occur.

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.

Advice for employers can be found in the Employers' Guide to Direct Earnings Attachments 

I’m moving, can I claim benefit/support on both homes?
If you move from one home to another, rent may be payable on both properties at the same time for a maximum of 4 weeks if:

  • you have moved from one home to another on a permanent basis and you are responsible for rent payments for your previous address
  • you can't move into a new home because it is being adapted to meet the disablement needs of yourself or a member of your family who lives with you
  • you had to leave your home for fear of violence and intend to return (maximum absence of 52 weeks)
  • your family is so large that the local authority has had to house your family in 2 properties (no time limit)
  • you or your partner is a student studying away from home and needs to claim benefit elsewhere. You would need to prove that it is unavoidable and that it is reasonable to pay benefit on both homes (no time limit).

You will need to make a written request for an overlapping payment direct to us and provide evidence from your previous landlord. You can only receive Council Tax Support on a single property at any one time so you will be responsible for payment of Council Tax on both homes if you do not get full Council Tax Support of your new property.

What if the number of people living with me changes during the year?
You must write to us as changes to the number of people in your household may affect the number of bedrooms you need, which in turn affects the local housing allowance applicable to you. Changes which can affect your local housing allowance are, for example, a young person reaching the age of 16 or a child reaching the age of 10, or if there is a substantial change or improvement to the condition of your property.

I am self-employed - what do I need to do?
If you are self-employed you should send us your latest accounts or, if these aren't available, you'll need to complete a self-employed income form

Can my claim for Housing Benefit be backdated?
If you are over pensionable age your claim for Housing Benefit can be backdated up to a maximum of 3 months. If you request a backdated award you will be asked to provide details of your circumstances during this past period. If you are under pensionable age you may ask for your claim to be backdated for up to 6 months prior to your application for Housing Benefit.

In both cases you must prove that you had a very good reason for failing to apply earlier. You will be asked for documentary evidence to support your request. For instance, if you have been ill, a letter from your doctor or the hospital.