What you need to know while on benefits
What do I do now?
When you receive a notification letter about your benefit or Council Tax Support from the Council this will include a breakdown of the income used to assess your entitlement. You must check this carefully to make sure the details used to calculate your benefit are correct. If any of the details are wrong or something has not been included you must contact the benefit office immediately. Failure to do so may result in you being paid too much money which you may have to pay back.
Please tell us immediately about any changes in your circumstances or those of your family who are included in your claim. These include:
- Changes in income, including benefits
- Any changes in your Universal Credit award
- Increases or decreases in your earnings or self-employed earnings
- You or anyone living with you changes jobs or the number of hours worked
- The amount of child care you pay or the person providing the care changes
- Changes in your or your partners capital, savings or investments or anyone's living with you
- Any of your children leave school or leave home
- Anyone moves into or out of your home including sub-tenants and boarders
- You or anyone living with you becomes a student, starts a Training Scheme, goes into hospital, a nursing home or prison
- Your rent changes
- You move
- You or your partner are going to be away from the property for more than four weeks
- Anything else you have told us about changes.
Please tell us yourself about these changes, do not rely on someone else to pass on the message. If you do not tell us of the changes within one month from the date of the change you may lose any additional benefit or you may be asked to repay any benefit you are not entitled to.
It is an offence not to tell us about a change in your circumstances that affects benefit. We may take further action against you if the Council considers that you have committed an offence.
What if I do not qualify?
If your circumstances change and you wish to make a new claim for help with your housing costs you may need to claim Universal Credit - more information is available on our Universal Credit information page.
If you need help with your Council Tax you can still apply for Council Tax Support with the Council.
What if I disagree with the decision?
You have the right to request a full explanation if:
- You do not understand the way your benefit has been calculated
- You do not agree with a decision
- You have been overpaid and do not understand why you have been overpaid.
If you require an explanation or reconsideration this must be done within a month of the date of the original decision. If you do not agree with our decision you have the right to appeal.
For Housing Benefit your appeal must be made in writing to the Council within a month of the original decision. If you have asked for an explanation or reconsideration this period will be extended by the time we take to provide this to you in writing. If we do not change the decision your appeal will be referred to the Tribunal Service, this is an independent organisation. The Tribunal Service apply the same rules as the Council and they can only decide if the law has been applied correctly.
For Council Tax Support your appeal can be made in writing to the Council within a month of the original decision. If you have asked for an explanation or reconsideration this will be extended by the time we taker to provide this to you in writing.
You can also appeal directly to the Valuation Office Agency this must be done within 2 months of the original decision, this can be done by visiting the Valuation Tribunal website.
If your appeal is made outside of this time the Tribunal Service or Valuation Tribunal will decide whether they accept the appeal
Additional help with your rent
If your rent is not being met in full through Housing Benefit or the Universal Credit Housing Costs, it may be possible to offer you additional assistance from our Discretionary Housing Payment Fund. This is a limited fund and will depend on your circumstances. More information and an application form can be found on our Discretionary Housing Payment page.