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Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support FAQs

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Housing benefit is usually only paid for the home in which you are living and paying rent.

Sometimes, you may be able to get help for two homes, for example:

  • You have moved into other rented accommodation due to fear of violence
  • You are a student or trainee, one of a couple, and have to live in separate rented accommodation because of your course or work
  • You have a large family and the Council has housed you in two separate properties
  • You have move to a new home which you have to pay rent for but you must still pay rent for your old home

Fear of violence

Where you have left your former home and remain absent due to fear of violence occurring either in your home by another person or outside your home by a former member of your family, benefit may be paid.

In all cases, we must consider if it is reasonable to do so and benefit may be paid for a maximum of 52 weeks. For benefit to be paid, you must intend to return to and live in the home you left.

Students or trainees

Couples who are living in separate rented accommodation may receive benefit for both properties. We must consider that separate accommodation is unavoidable and it is reasonable to pay benefit on both homes. There is no time limit on this provision.

Large families

If you have a large family and the council has housed you in two separate dwellings because your household is too large for them to place you in one home, benefit may be paid on both properties. To qualify, both properties must be public housing whether or not provided directly by the council and should be adjacent to each other. There is no time limit for this provision.

Unavoidable overlapping benefit

If you have moved to a new home which you rent and you still have to pay rent for your old home, help may be available. If the situation is unavoidable, e.g. you were offered a new home to rent but were unable to give your landlord the notice he required, benefit may be paid for up to 4 weeks on your old home. For this to be considered, you must have moved into your new home.

The simple answer is yes, being self-employed does not mean you won't get any Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support. Just like paid employment, it is how much you earn that counts.

What does self-employed mean?

Self-employed people are those workers who are not employed under a contract. Typically, they can include trades such as window-cleaners, certain taxi-drivers, painters and decorators, etc.

A person can be self-employed as a sole trader or as part of a business partnership.

What is my total income for Housing Benefit / Council Tax Support?

The starting point in the calculation is to work out the total business income for the period in question. This will include all money coming in, business start-up allowances, etc but will not include sums of capital paid into the business.

If you have recently started trading on a self-employed basis, we will ask for an estimate of the likely income and expenses for the business over the first few months trading. This will help us to pay your Benefit sooner rather than having to wait until you have been trading for a few months.

If you have been trading for over 12 months, we will ask for a full years trading figures - normally in the way of a 'profit and loss account'. We may also ask for the most recent tax assessment form received from the Inland Revenue.

Which expenses are then taken off this income?

The Benefit / Support rules are similar to the rules operated for tax purposes. Notable differences are that we cannot deduct any sums attributed to expenses such as depreciation, business entertaining, capital repayments on loans or any sum which relates purely or partially to a private expense.

Self-employed Childminders

Childminders are treated differently. Instead of working out what their actual expenses are, two thirds of their total income is disregarded. The remaining third becomes their 'business income' for Benefit purposes.

Business partnerships

If you are employed in a partnership, the pre-tax profit for the business (i.e. gross income, expenses) is divided equally between the number of partners. If there is a formal agreement in the partnership which governs that profit should be treated differently, then this will take priority.

Tax and National Insurance

We will calculate income tax and National Insurance deductions ourselves based on the net profit figure. These figures may differ from the figures worked out by the Inland Revenue. Half of any private pension contributions are also disregarded.

All of the above are then deducted from your net profit figure to give us the earnings amount to be used when calculating Housing and Council Tax Support.

If you are receving:

  • Income Support
  • Job Seeker's Allowance (income or contributions based)
  • Employment Support Allowance or
  • Pension credit

OR if you do not fall into one of the above groups but receive a low income you may be eligible for Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Support. If you would like further information about Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support or would like to apply please contact us.

To work out your entitlement the council will look at:

  • Housing costs - Your rent and/or Council Tax charges
  • Income - Money that you and your partner have coming in, including earnings, some benefits and tax credits and things like occupational pensions, your savings and your partners savings, this also includes such things as stocks and shares and property, as well as bank or building society accounts.
  • Needs - Your circumstances, such as your age, the ages and size of your family and whether you or any of your family are disabled.
  • Non-dependants - whether anyone who lives with you could help with the rent.

Housing costs

The most Housing Benefit you can get is the same as your eligible rent. This may not be the same as your full rent.

Housing Benefit does not cover most service charges such as those for fuel, cooking, lighting, laundry facilities and meals. Please contact us for further advice.

Private landlord If you pay rent to a private landlord we will use the Local Housing Allowance to work out how much Housing Benefit you can get. This means that we do not always use the actual weekly rent you pay to work out your benefit. If your actual rent is higher than the LHA rate we will only use this rate to work out your benefit. So it is important that you find out the rate that will apply to you before deciding whether to rent a property.

The LHA rate that applies to you will depend on:

  • the size of the property you need
  • the area where you live

If you are single and under 35 years old your rent will normally be restricted to the single room rent, this is usually about £50.00 a week.

Social housing If you are the tenant of a housing association or Ashfield Homes Ltd we will normally base your housing benefit entitlement on the rent that you are charged (apart from services that are not covered by housing benefit for example water rates).

Room Restriction rules From 1 April 2013 the Government introduced new rules that set out the number of bedrooms Housing Benefit will pay for if you are renting from a registered housing association.

The new rules will restrict the size of accommodation you can receive Housing Benefit for based on the number of people in your household.

The rules allow one bedroom for:

  • every adult couple (married or unmarried)
  • any other adult aged 16 or over
  • any two children of the same sex aged under 16
  • any two children under 10
  • any other child (other than a foster child or child whose main home is elsewhere)
  • a carer (or team of carers) who do not live with you but provide you or your partner with overnight care
  • students studying away - if they are not getting Housing Benefit at their student address and return home regularly

If you are assessed under these rules as having more bedrooms than is necessary for your household you will be considered under- occupying the property.

If you are under-occupying there will be a reduction in your Housing Benefit of:

  • 14% of your eligible rent for under-occupancy by one bedroom
  • 25% for under-occupancy by two or more bedrooms

Properties exempt from the restriction rules

  • Shared Ownership
  • Temporary accommodation
  • Supported exempt accommodation

Income

If you do not receive Income Support, income based Jobseeker's Allowance or (Guaranteed) Pension Credit we have to compare the money you have coming in (your income) to your needs. Your income will include an assumed income from any capital you have over £6,000 (£10,000 if you or your partner are pension age or over). Your needs are worked out using the personal allowances and premiums for the members of your family who live with, and are dependent on you. You cannot get Housing Benefit / Council Tax Support if you (and your partner) have more than £16,000 in savings or capital.

If you are working for an employer you will need to give us five weeks, or two months, wage slips to work out your average earnings. Earnings are worked out after allowing for Income Tax, National Insurance contributions and half of any pension contributions that you make.

All other income is taken into account on a weekly basis, including state benefits, private pensions and maintenance payments. Some types of income are ignored either in full or in part when working out how much we can pay you.

Needs

Personal Allowances are the allowances set by the government to be used when calculating benefit entitlement. They are meant to reflect how much money a person needs to live on per week. They vary depending on the circumstances of the person claiming, the size and circumstances or their family if they have one.

Non-dependants

You may get less benefit because of people living with you. These could be:

  • Children who have left school
  • Relatives
  • Friends

These people are called non-dependants. If they are over 18, the Government expects them to pay a share of your housing costs. It lays down set amounts, which we must take off your benefit. This deduction is based on the non-dependants' gross weekly income (pay before stoppages plus any other income including benefits). You must let us know if there are any non-dependants living with you.

Your Council Tax Support is based on the banding of your property. This means that your entitlement will be worked out using the Council Tax you are liable to pay.

This is the figure after any other discounts have been taken off.

If you are a private tenant or tenant of a Housing Association, you will be paid every four weeks in arrears.

Housing Benefit

Payments are usually made directly into a bank account but we can pay by crossed cheque if you don't have a bank account.

Housing Benefit payments for Housing Association tenants can be paid direct to your landlord. For private tenants, by law, we must pay this to the tenant unless you are unable to manage your rent payments (for example, because you have a learning disability, have language problems, are ill, are in a lot of debt or are addicted to drugs, alcohol or gambling). The tenant can then ask us to pay their Housing Benefit directly to their landlord. Your landlord can also ask to be paid direct without your permission if you are eight weeks or more in arrears.

If you are a tenant of Ashfield Homes Ltd, your benefit will be credited to your rent account. You will need to pay any difference between your benefit and rent direct to them.

When we have worked out your claim, we will send you a decision letter to tell you how much you will get and how you will be paid. This will also show the information we have used to work out your Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support.

If you do not understand our benefit decision or you want to know more about your entitlement, please contact us and our staff will be pleased to help you. We will send you a 'Statement of Reasons' explaining how we have worked out your Housing Benefit / Council Tax Support if you ask for this.

When you apply for Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support, we will give you a decision in writing about your claim. If you disagree with it, you can ask us to look at it again.

There are different ways in which you can do this. You can contact us to:

  • ask us to explain our decision
  • ask is to look at your claim again or
  • appeal against our decision

You must be a person affected by the decision to ask us for any of these options.

Who is affected?

The people this will affect include:

  • you (the person making the claim)
  • someone acting on your behalf (chosen by the courts)
  • someone who we agree can act on your behalf
  • your landlord - but only in matters relating to who we pay benefit to
  • your agent - but only in matters relating to who we pay benefit to or
  • anybody who we ask to pay back benefit we have overpaid

This means that only you can ask us to look at our decision again about how much Housing Benefit / Council Tax Support we think you are entitled to. Your landlord or agent can only appeal against decisions relating to whether or not we pay your Housing Benefit direct to them, or if we decide to recover an overpayment of Housing Benefit from them.

The amount of Housing Benefit/Council Tax Support we pay you is a matter between us and you. Only you can ask us to look again at how much Housing Benefit/Council Tax Support we pay you. If we reduce your benefit to recover any Housing Benefit we have overpaid you from a previous address your current landlord cannot appeal against our decision to recover that overpayment.

Landlords and appeals

Your landlord only has certain rights of appeal if they don't agree with our decision about your Housing Benefit.

  • Your landlord can appeal if our decision is not to pay benefit direct to them
  • Your landlord can appeal if we ask them to pay back any benefit we have overpaid you
  • Your landlord cannot appeal about how much benefit we give you

Decisions you can't appeal against

You can ask us to look again at any decision you think is wrong. But there are some decisions you can't appeal against, for example:

  • what information and proof we need you to give us
  • if we did not look at our decision again because you asked us too late
  • if we decide not to backdate your benefit because you did not tell us about a change in your circumstances on time
  • the method of payment or how often we pay you
  • that we have a right to recover an amount we have overpaid you
  • how we recover the amount we overpaid you
  • and if you think our decision about a discretionary housing payment is wrong

Statement of reasons

You can ask us to give you a statement (called a statement of reasons) in writing to explain how we made our decision. This does not affect your right to appeal against our decision. The time we take to provide the statement will mean you have more time to ask us to look at our decision again or appeal to an independent body.

What should I do if I want you to look at your decision again?

For Housing Benefit you must write to us within one month of the date on the decision letter. If there are special circumstances which mean you cannot write to us within one month, you must contact us to explain why because we may still be able to look at our decision again.

For the Council Tax Support, if you disagree with or want to appeal against our decision you should, in the first instance, write to us, explaining the grounds of your disagreement or appeal.

What happens when we look at our decision again?

The decision will be checked by a different officer to the one who made the original decision, to see if it is correct.

If we can change our decision:

  • we may change it from the date of our original decision
  • and will send you a letter explaining our new decision

If we cannot change our decision:

  • we will send you a letter explaining why
  • and you have one more month to appeal to the Appeal Tribunals Service for Housing Benefit
  • or you may appeal in writing to the independent tribunal, the Valuation Office Agency for Council Tax Support

I want to appeal against your decision. What should I do?

If you want to appeal against a decision, you must write to us within one month of the date of the letter giving you the decision for your Housing Benefit. You should give all the reasons why you disagree with our decision. This is important because the tribunal does not have to look at anything you do not mention in your letter of appeal. The tribunal can only look at the evidence, the law, and the circumstances at the time the original decision was made.

The Appeals Tribunal Service will only accept a late appeal if you have special circumstances for not appealing within one month. You should include an explanation of these special circumstances with your reasons for appeal. Your appeal cannot be accepted for any reason if it is made 13 months or more after the date on the decision letter.

For Council Tax Reduction if you are still unhappy with our decision you can appeal to an independent body, the Valuation Tribunal. You will need to fill in an appeal form. You can do this online at www.valuationtribunal.gov.uk.

You have two months to appeal to the Valuation Tribunal after the Council has given you its final written decision. If you have not received a reply to your appeal within two months, you can still appeal to the Valuation Tribunal if no more than four months have passed since you wrote to us regarding you appeal.

Remember, if the appeal/valuation tribunal finds you have been getting to much money, we will reduce your Housing Benefit/Council Tax Support.

Normally, your Benefit / Support will start from the Monday after we get your completed claim form but in certain circumstances, benefit can start from an earlier date.

Backdating claims

Pension Age

For all pension age claims, a claim will begin three months prior to the date that the claim was received, or from the date that they reached pension age, or the date they became liable for rent or council tax, whichever of these three is later. This is automatic and does not have to be applied for. You do not need to show good cause.

Working Age

If you are late in claiming your Housing Benefit we may consider an earlier claim, if you had good reasons (known as ‘good cause’) for not claiming at the correct time. The most we can go back is six months from the date of your claim. Please note that from 1 April 2016 Housing Benefit rules are changing. Any claims made on or after this date can only be backdated for a maximum of one month.

Council Tax Support will start from the Monday following the date the claim was received; or in some circumstances the date we receive the application form. There is no provision for Council Tax Support to be backdated.

Mislaid claims

If you think that we, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) or the Pension Service have mislaid your claim you must tell us as soon as possible and provide evidence. This evidence may include a receipt, confirmation from a Local Authority Officer or another Agency such as the Pension Service.

If we agree that your form has been lost, we will treat it as being received from the date you originally sent it in.

It is important that you provide all the documents needed to prove your income and identity as this will help us to deal with your claim more quickly. The documents you supply must be originals as we cannot accept copies.

Proof of identity

You need to provide proof of both your and your partner's identity and National Insurance Numbers. Please send or bring in least two of the following for you and your partner (if you have one):

  • Original birth certificate
  • Current driving licence
  • Wage slips from your current employer
  • Passport
  • Credit card
  • Divorce or annulment papers
  • Benefit entitlement letter
  • Gas, electric or water rate bill
  • Life assurance policy
  • Letter from a Solicitor, Doctor, Social Worker, Probation Officer or the HM Revenue & Customs
  • NHS medical card
  • Marriage certificate
  • Bank statement (dated within the last four weeks)
  • HM Forces certificate of employment
  • EC or EBA National identity card
  • Home Office acknowledgement letter

Proof of income

If you are employed, you need to provide five wage slips in a row if you are paid weekly, three wage slips in a row if paid every two weeks and two wage slips in a row if you are paid every month. If you do not have wage slips available, you can ask your Employer to provide a letter on official Company paper. The letter must include the following information to help us deal with your claim:

  • name and address of your employer
  • your income before deductions in the year so far
  • the amount of income tax deducted
  • occupational pension or personal pension payments
  • details of your pay before and after any deductions, and any other deductions for a five week period
  • how you are paid - for example, by cheque, cash or into your bank account
  • the number of hours you have worked and the period of time the pay covers
  • your income before any deductions for the pay period
  • the amount of National Insurance contributions which have been deducted

There is also an earnings certificate on the application form which your employer can complete.

If you or your partner are self-employed please see the question "Can I still get benefit if I am self-employed?"

If you get any state benefits, we will need to see your benefit book or a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions or the HM Revenue & Customs showing the amount you get.

Any documents or books you provide to support your claim must be the originals.

We also need to see proof of your savings and investments if you have any. We will need to see two full months' of your most recent bank statements for all your accounts plus statements, passbooks or certificates showing all your savings and investments and how they are invested.

Please don't delay sending your form back to us if you do not have all the items of proof needed. Send or bring in your form to ourselves and let us know that you have more information to send us later. Please do not send valuable items through the post.

If you are housebound and have no one who can help you please call us on 01623 457400 to see if we can visit you.

It is important that you get all the Housing Benefit / Council Tax Support you are entitled to and we can only work out your entitlement using the proof you give us. Because Housing Benefit /Council Tax Support is paid out of public funds, we have to check all the information given to us as it is important that we do not pay any benefit / support which you are not entitled to.

If you are intending to move house or have moved, please let us know by contacting us on 01623 457400 as soon as you can.

Even if you move to another flat or room at the same address we need to know about this as it can affect your benefit claim.

When you contact us we will need to know:

  • your Council Tax account number which starts with a '4' (if you are registered to pay Council Tax)
  • your benefit reference number if you know it
  • your full name
  • your old address and the date you are moving / have moved out
  • your new address and the date you are moving / have moved in

You must:

  • Tell us as soon as you move house. Please try to tell us before you move but if you cannot do this, tell us as soon after the move as you can. It is important that you let us know quickly as any overpaid benefit caused by your move will be recoverable.
  • Where you are a tenant of a private landlord, you should check the Local Housing Allowance rates for the area before you agree to take on the tenancy. This will tell you the maximum amount of benefit that could be paid for the property before you agree to the tenancy. This can then be used as a guide as to how much benefit you may be entitled to.
  • You will need to complete a new application form if you are moving into the Ashfield area from somewhere else.
  • You will need to complete a change of address form if you are already getting Housing Benefit / Council Tax Support from Ashfield District Council and you are moving within the Ashfield area.
  • If you are unable to move into your new home straight away, please contact us for further advice.
  • You must also tell us about any other changes in your circumstances.

We will:

  • Assess your claim as soon as possible once all information required to process the claim has been received.
  • You may be able to apply for benefit at your old and new addresses - known as "overlapping benefit". We will look fairly at any application you make for benefit on two homes. We will decide if benefit can be paid and inform you in writing of the decision made. Please see the question "Can I get benefit on two homes?" for further information.

It is a condition of receiving Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support that you are actually living in the property for which you are claiming benefit / support.

There are certain exceptions to this rule which means that some people can continue to claim benefit / support during periods of absence from the property. This page explains the circumstances in which people can continue to claim whilst being away from the property.

General rules

The length of time for which you can continue to claim benefit / support during an absence depends on the reason why you are away from your property. Some groups of people can continue to claim for 13 weeks and some groups can claim for 52 weeks. For both groups of people, however, the basic qualifying conditions below must always be met:

  • You must intend to return to live in the property
  • You (or your landlord - if applicable) must not sublet your accommodation whilst you are away
  • Your absence must not be likely to exceed 13 or 52 weeks at the start of the absence. For example, you cannot intend to go and stay with relatives for 16 weeks and ask us to pay for the first 13 weeks

The '13 week rule'

Certain groups of people are allowed to continue claiming for up to 13 weeks during a period of absence. These are listed below:

  • People in residential accommodation (e.g. homes for the elderly) on a trial basis
  • People who have been convicted and sentenced for a crime
  • People on holiday or visiting friends, etc.

The '52 week rule'

Certain groups of people are allowed to continue claiming for up to 52 weeks during a period of absence. Examples of these are listed below:

  • People on remand awaiting trial
  • People in hospital
  • People receiving "medically approved care" (e.g. those attending drug or alcohol rehabilitation schemes away from their home)

If you are unsure of how your absence will be treated, please contact us for advice.

Required information

If it is clear that you will be away from your property for a length of time, please advise us before you leave. We need to know the following:

  • The likely period of your absence
  • The reason for your absence
  • A statement confirming that you will return to live in your property and that you will not sub-let it during your absence

During your absence

If any of the following change during your absence you need to inform us immediately:

  • If you decide not to return to the property
  • If your reason for absence changes
  • If your absence is likely to be for longer than expected

If you start work you may be able to continue getting the same Housing Benefit for an extra four weeks and Council Tax Support for an extra six weeks. This is known as extended payments.

What are extended payments?

Extended payments are payments of Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support which can be paid for an extra four weeks/six weeks after you come off Income Support, Jobseeker's Allowance, Employment Support Allowance or Severe Disablement Allowance and start work.

If you qualify for these extended payments, we will pay Housing Benefit for an extra four weeks and Council Tax Support for an extra six weeks at the same rate we paid you before you started work. It doesn't matter how much you earn in your new job.

How do I claim Extended Payments?

You do not have to make a written claim to get Extended Payments. Instead you have to tell either:

  • The DWP or
  • Employment Services or
  • Our Customer Services Team on 01623 457400

that you or your partner have started, or about to start, work.

If you are coming off Employment Support Allowance or Severe Disablement Allowance, please tell Revenue Services directly.

You do not have to tell them in writing. You can tell them by telephone or visiting the office if you want. However, you must tell them within 4 weeks from when you or your partner start work. As long as you do this, you will be treated as having made a claim for Extended Payments.

Who can qualify for Extended Payments?

To qualify for Extended Payments you or your partner must have:

  • started work or increased your hours, and as a result your Income Support or Income Based Jobseeker's Allowance has stopped and
  • the new job is expected to last for at least 5 weeks and either
  • you have been available for and actively seeking work for at least 26 weeks immediately before your new job starts or
  • you are a lone parent, carer or on a government training scheme, in which case you do not have to have been available for work in the 26 weeks before your new job starts.

How much is paid?

The weekly amount of the Extended Payment is exactly the same as the benefit / support in payment when you started work. So it does not matter how much money you are earning in your new job.

What happens when the extended benefit / support ends?

At the end of the four / six week period the extended benefit / support will stop, but this does not mean that you are no longer entitled to Housing or Council Tax Support. If you are on a low income you may still be able to get some benefit / support. If you would like to claim please complete one of our claim forms and return it to us as soon as possible together with the information it asks for. We will then assess your claim and let you know if you still qualify.

An overpayment is an amount of Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit (pre-April 2013), which has been paid but to which there is no entitlement under the rules. Please note that Council Tax Support from April 2013 has a different set of rules and changes to this are referred to as adjustments.

Why do overpayments occur?

Overpayments can occur because of many different factors. A typical reason is when your income increases for a past period which then reduces the level of benefit awarded.

What happens when an overpayment is discovered?

When an overpayment is found, the following decisions are made:

  • The period of the overpayment
  • The amount of the overpayment
  • The cause of the overpayment
  • Whether the overpayment is classed as 'recoverable'
  • Whether to recover the overpayment
  • Decide from whom the overpayment should be recovered

We will then write to you shortly afterwards providing you with more information. If we were making payments of Housing Benefit to your landlord when the overpayment occurred, we will also write to them.

What if the overpayment was not my fault?

If you actually reported a change to us and we did not act upon it for a long time, then we will not automatically ask for it to be repaid. Much will depend on whether you knew whether you were being overpaid benefit at the relevant time.

Overpayments due to delayed Benefit Awards

Sometimes, you may be claiming Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support whilst you are waiting for another Social Security Benefit to be awarded. If you are then awarded the other benefit, this may result in an overpayment of Housing Benefit. We may ask for this money to be repaid.

Overpayments paid to landlords

If we were paying benefit to a landlord and then found out that there had been an overpayment, we may ask the landlord to pay the money back direct. However, if there is a good reason why we should ask you for the money instead then we will do this. An example could be where you had started work and had not told us and your landlord could not have been expected to know that he was being overpaid. Each overpayment case is considered on its own merits.

How do I repay an overpayment?

Normally, we will take a weekly amount from your current Housing Benefit if you are still entitled. Otherwise, we will send you an invoice asking for you to repay the money. Either way, we can discuss repayment with you so that we do not ask you to pay too much each week.

Overpayments of Council Tax Benefit (pre-April 2013) are transferred onto your Council Tax account and a revised demand notice will be issued to you.

What is an adjustment?

An adjustment is an amount of Council Tax Support that has changed since the original decision was made, based on Council Tax Support rules. It could result in either an under-allowance or over-allowance of Council Tax Support.

Why do adjustments occur?

Adjustments can occur because of many different factors. A typical reason is that your income has changed for a past period which then changes the level of Council Tax Support awarded. This can result in more or less Council Tax to be paid.

What happens when an adjustment is discovered?

We will write to you with details of your revised entitlement to Council Tax Support, and you will be issued with a revised Council Tax demand notice. This may be for more, or less than your previous demand depending on the change that has taken place. All adjustments of Council Tax Support are recoverable and must be paid in accordance with Council Tax recovery rules. This applies regardless of the reason for the adjustment.

What do I do if I think my Council Tax Support decision is wrong?

Please refer to "I think my Housing Benefit / Council Tax Support is wrong. What can I do?".

Here are some examples of changes affecting you or your partner which you need to tell us about:

  • starting to get or no longer getting Income Support or any other type of State Benefit;
  • starting work or changing jobs;
  • wages going up or down;
  • savings going up or down;
  • how many people live with you;
  • any of your children leaving school;
  • moving home (this includes if you move to another flat or room at the same address);
  • birth of a baby;
  • going into hospital;
  • going into a rest home.

You must give us full details about the change in your circumstances and the date of the change. It is important that you tell us about any changes as soon as possible so that we do not pay you too much benefit.

If you do get too much benefit (an overpayment) we will ask you to pay the money back. For more information please see the question "What is an overpayment?".

If you are under pension age and you get any other state benefit, you also need to tell Jobcentre Plus about any changes in your circumstances.

If you are over pension age, you must tell The Pension Service of any changes and they will tell you how the change will affect you. If the change is something which was not included in your Pension Credit calculation, you must tell us not the Pension Service.

Here are some examples of changes that you need to tell us about:

  • changes to your tenancy;
  • non-dependants and who is living with you;
  • absence from home of more than 13 weeks;
  • dependent children;
  • Child Tax Credit;
  • Child Benefit;
  • savings and investments of more than £16,000 (if you are getting Savings Credit);
  • income and capital of partners which is not included in the Pension Credit Claim.

Normally, your Housing Benefit / Council Tax Support will start from the Monday after we get your completed claim form but sometimes, different rules apply.

For example, if you made your claim when you applied for Pension Credit or Jobseekers Allowance, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support will normally start from the same date as them.

You may also be able to have your claim backdated, please see the question "I think my Housing Benefit / Council Tax Support should start from an earlier date - how can I apply?"

If your entitlement to Housing Benefit / Council Tax Support ceases for whatever reason, you will normally be paid up to and including the Sunday following the date entitlement ceased.

You should claim as soon as possible.

If you delay claiming, you may lose some benefit. If you don't have all the proof you need to send with your claim form, please don't delay sending the form back. Please send or bring the form in immediately and supply the remaining proof later.

If you would like to apply for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support please contact us.

If you are the only person liable to pay Council Tax, and at pension age, but have other non-liable adults living with you we may be able to use their income and savings to work out your benefit. These ‘second adults’ must not be dependant on you or pay or pay you rent to live in your home; they cannot be your partner either.

Second Adult Rebate is not applicable for working age claimants.

Who would be classed as a 'second adult'?

Anyone who is 18 years or older and lives in the home with the Council Tax payer. Examples of 'second adults' are grown up children, friends and relatives. People who cannot be treated as 'second adults' are any people who are liable to pay the Council Tax themselves. This includes the Council Tax payer's partner, joint-tenants, lodgers and certain students.

How much 'Second Adult Rebate' can I receive?

This depends on the income of the 'second adult(s)'. If there is more than one 'second adult' in the property, their income is added together for the purpose of calculating this benefit. The highest reduction which can be awarded is a 25% reduction in the amount of Council Tax due. Lower awards can also be assessed based on the financial details of the 'Second Adult(s)'. It is important to remember that the income and savings of the Council Tax payer are not taken into account in the calculation.

Any Support due to you is credited to your Council Tax account. This will be shown on your Council Tax bill.

How can the rebate be claimed?

To claim, the Council Tax payer, not the second adults, must fill in an application form. This is the same form as that used to claim "main" Council Tax Support and Housing Benefit. It is important to claim Council Tax Support as soon as possible so that you do not lose out on potential entitlement.

What information is needed to assess a person's entitlement to Second Adult Rebate?

The Council only needs to know about the circumstances of the second adult(s). Full details of their income and savings will be required. The information we need is shown on the claim form.

Follow this link, advice on what do do if you are having difficulty paying your Council Tax can be found on this page under the heading "If I get into payment difficulties can I get help?"

 

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