Housing benefit

What is housing benefit?

Housing benefit helps you pay your rent if you are on a low income and is a means tested benefit. Housing benefit cannot help you pay a mortgage: you will need to contact the Department for Work and Pensions if you need help with this.

Your local council pays housing benefit whether you are renting a property from the council, a Housing Association or from a private landlord. 

  • If you pay rent to the council the benefit is called a rent rebate and is paid directly into your rent account. 
  • If you rent a property from a Housing Association the benefit is called rent allowance and can be paid directly to you or to your landlord. 
  • If you pay rent to a private landlord the benefit is called Local Housing Allowance and is paid directly to you unless you meet specific vulnerability criteria.

Try our benefit calculator to see what help you can get.

How do I claim?

You can get an application form from MyCouncil or you can download one here:

You should hand in your application form as soon as you can. Benefit entitlement will generally start from the Monday following the date we receive your completed application form, however your benefit may start earlier if you meet certain criteria. Please contact us if you would like further information. 

Provide all the supporting evidence, we cannot pay your benefit until we have seen all the evidence we have asked for. 

You won't get any benefit if you don't claim.

Contacting the benefits team

We do not usually acknowledge receipt of any documents received.

We normally respond to enquiries in date order, unless there are other pressing matters, for instance action to evict you by your landlord, so make sure you tell us all about these. All written communications are stored on our document imaging system and cannot be lost. We are taking around:

  • 24 days to process benefit claims and
  • 12 days for changes affecting benefit and charges.

We will write to you to inform you of the outcome. This could be a letter or a revised invoice.

Please call 01753 475111 if you need an urgent response.

Can I claim from an earlier date?

If you are late submitting your claim you may be able to request backdating if you have good cause for doing so. The length of time we could go back depends on how old you are.

If you are under 60 years old, you can request backdated benefit for a maximum of 6 months from the date we receive your request.

If you are over 60 years old, we will automatically consider whether you qualify for backdated benefit when you submit your claim for benefit. You will not need to prove a ‘good cause’ for failing to apply on time, however we can only go back for a maximum of 3 months from the date your entitlement starts.

If you recently turned 60 years old, we can only backdate to the date you became 60. Or if your circumstances recently changed, we can only backdate from the date you became entitled to benefit.

If you are receiving Local Housing Allowance and your request for backdating is successful, your Local Housing Allowance rate will be based on the figures that apply for the month you have asked your claim to start from. This may be different to the figures for the month you have submitted your form in. We will review your Local Housing Allowance rate every year after the start of your claim unless your circumstances change before then.

Your request for backdated benefit must be in writing and you must give evidence in support of your request.
Please ring our Customer Service Centre on 01753 475111 for further advice.

What proof do I need?

Proof of National Insurance Number: (for new claims only) one item for each of you such as P45 or P60 for last employer, NINo Card, printed wage slips, letter from DWP/Job Centre, letter or tax code from Revenues and Customs, occupational pension slip.

  • Proof of Identity: (for new claims only) in addition to one item from the list above, at least one further item for each of you such as up-to-date driving licence, passport, utility bill, bank statements. We can also accept birth or marriage certificates, divorce papers, medical card, residence permit, letter from Home Office, probation officer, solicitor, social worker or Revenues and Customs.
  • If you have a partner (same or opposite sex) we will need proof from them as well.
  • Proof of Earnings: for each of you. Pay-slips MUST be consecutive i.e. 5 weekly pay-slips, or 3 fortnightly, or 2 monthly OR a detailed letter from your employer, OR a Certificate of Earnings.
  • Proof of Self-Employed Earnings: for each of you e.g. most recent audited accounts or a completed self employed form and your bank statements. If you require a self employed form please call 01753 475111 or visit the 'forms and leaflets' section.
  • Proof of Benefits, Pensions or Allowances: for each of you e.g. current award letters from DWP or other pension provider.
  • Proof of Any Other Income: including student grants/loans and bursary.
  • Proof of Savings and Investments: for each of you i.e. Bank, Building Society and Post Office account statements/pass-books for the last 2 months. For all other investments and capital, please provide certificates or other documentation.
  • Proof of Rent: private tenants and Housing Association tenants only, please provide a current tenancy agreement or a letter from your landlord/agent or a fully completed and recently updated rent book/card. The document needs to confirm your rent and any service charges you pay, the date you moved in, and whether you are a joint tenant. It also needs to be signed by you and your landlord.
  • Proof of Income, Capital and Savings for all Non-Dependants: these are the people entered in Section C on the claim form.
  • Proof of Child Benefit and any other income and/or savings for all Dependants: we also need to see proof of the child’s/children’s date of birth if the evidence supplied does not include this.
  • Proof of Payments to a registered or approved childminder
  • Proof of Payments to a Pension Scheme: except those you make through your employer as they will show on your pay-slips.
  • Proof of your student course with notification confirming how many guided learning hours you do

How will Housing Benefit be paid?

If payment is being made directly to you then you will be paid every fortnight in arrears. If payments are being made to your landlord then they will receive payment every 4 weeks in arrears.

Please note that if you are a council tenant then your rent rebate will be credited directly to your rent account.
You or your landlord can be paid directly into a bank account, if you would like to be paid directly into a bank account please complete a BACS form here (link to BACS form in forms and leaflets section)

Sharing information with your landlord

If payments of benefit are made directly to your landlord, we can give them limited information about your claim. This information is limited to details around the dates of payments, the amount of benefit you are entitled, the amount of any overpayments that are being recovered from ongoing entitlement and we can tell them if your claim is suspended (but not the reason why).

If payments are being made directly to you (the claimant) then we will not give the landlord any information about you or your claim.

If you do wish us to give your landlord information about your claim then you will need to give us permission to do so in writing or by requesting it on your application form (this information will still be limited to details of payments, the amount of entitlement, the amount of any overpayments being recovered and if your claim is suspended).

At no time will the Council give out any personal information about you or your household.