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Help and advice about benefits

This page provides contact details for organisations giving help and advice on a range of benefits, including our own Benefit Team.

You can contact our Benefit Team by clicking here and if you have difficulty getting around and would like a home visit please contact us.

You can visit us in person at the Council Offices or at our Customer Service Centre at Oadby Library. For address details and opening hours click here.

There is also a Citizens Advice Bureau in South Wigston and for address, opening hours and contact details click here.

Help and advice about other benefits

If you need advice or wish to make a claim for Pension Credit, you can call the Pension Credit advice line on freephone (0800) 991234 or visit the Pension Service website or GOV.UK.

If you need advice or wish to make a claim for Job Seekers Allowance, Income Support or Employment and Support Allowance, you can call the Department of Work and Pensions on Leicester (0116) 252 9000 or visit the GOV.UK website for advice on a wide range of benefits and allowances.

If you need advice or wish to make a claim for Personal Independence Payment or Attendance Allowance, you can call the Disability Benefits helpline on freephone (0800) 882 200 or on (0845) 712 3456 or visit the GOV.UK website.

If you need advice or wish to make a claim for Tax Credits, you can contact the Inland Revenue on (0845) 300 3900 or visit Her Majesty's Revenues and Customs website.

Frequently Asked Questions (22)

Can my housing and council tax benefit start date be backdated?

Possibly, but you must provide the Council with all of the reasons why your entitlement should start from a date earlier than the date you submitted your benefit application form. The Council will only be able to agree to backdate your claim if you can demonstrate good cause why you did not apply earlier and that this existed for the whole of the period that you are seeking backdated benefit to be paid. Reasons such as 'I did not know about the scheme' or 'I did not have time to apply' are not normally considered to demonstrate good cause. Backdated benefit entitlement cannot exceed a period of 6 months for a claimant or partner who are under 60 and cannot exceed a period of 3 months for a claimant or partner who are 60 or over from the date of the claim.

How can I appeal against my benefit decision?

Send us a letter within one month to the address on this page.

How do I apply for help with my rent or council tax?

You can apply for both Housing Benefit (help with your rent) and Council Tax Benefit (help with your Council Tax) by completing the Council's housing and council tax benefit application form. However, if you have already filled in the Benefits Agency form (HCTB1 or Local Authority Input Document) along with an application for Income Support or Income Based Job Seekers Allowance, you do not need to also complete the Council form unless you wish to claim Housing Benefit as a tenant of a private landlord.
You will need to submit all the documentary proof that is asked for (original documents only) including evidence of your identity and your National Insurance number. For further information please go to the Information Required page.
Please answer all the questions on the form, and provide the necessary supporting evidence as quickly as possible, to allow us to assess your claim promptly. If you don't have the documentary evidence immediately available do not delay submitting your claim for housing and council tax benefit otherwise you may lose benefit to which you are entitled. (See question 5 regarding backdating of entitlement.)
For more information go to the Housing and Council Tax benefit entitlement page.

How long will I have to wait before my claim is processed?

We aim to assess new claims within 14 days of receiving all of the required information. Things that may delay your claim being processed include:
If all sections of the application form are not fully completed, including the declaration and signature.
If you do not supply all of the supporting documentation.
If the Council is waiting for information about your claim from another agency such as Her Majesty's Revenues and Customs, the Pension Service, or the Department of work and Pensions.
If the Council needs further information from you regarding your claim (in which case we will contact you). You have up to 1 month to provide the information but this delays processing your claim so we would appreciate your early response to requests for information.
You will be sent a notification letter once your application has been processed, advising you of your housing and council tax benefit entitlement.

How long will my entitlement to housing and council tax benefit continue?

Your entitlement will continue for as long as there is no change in the circumstances declared on your original claim form. It is important that any change of circumstances is reported promptly so always check that you have reported any change both to the Department for Work and Pensions (Job Centre Plus or the Pension Service) and to the Council.

How much housing and council tax benefit can I claim?

Both housing benefit and council tax benefit are means tested benefits. The calculation takes account of the claimant's income, savings, capital, the number of residents in the household and their personal and financial circumstances. The calculation also includes the amount of any rent and/or council tax payable. You may qualify for up to 100 per cent housing and council tax benefit.
For claims made now some claimants will qualify for Local Housing Allowance which does not take account of the actual rent payable. For further information please go to the Local Housing Allowance page.

How will my benefit be paid?

Your weekly entitlement to council tax benefit will be converted to an annual amount, credited directly to your Council Tax account and be deducted from the balance that is due to be paid.

Payment of Housing Benefit will depend upon the type of your tenancy and other circumstances for example:

If you are a Council tenant then your weekly entitlement will be credited to your rent account so that the actual weekly rent that you pay will be the difference between the full rent and your housing benefit entitlement.

If you are a tenant of a private or Registered Social Landlord then your Housing Benefit entitlement may be paid either, to you, or to your landlord, by BACS (Bankers Automated Credit System) straight into a bank account or by cheque. If it is paid to you then you will be paid in arrears every 2 weeks but if it is paid to your landlord it will be paid in arrears every 4 weeks. You can sometimes decide who should receive the payment. However, if you are 8 weeks or more in arrears with your rent your landlord can insist that housing benefit be paid directly to them. Claims made now, at a new address, will be subject to the Local Housing Allowance rules which mean that, with certain exceptions, housing benefit is only paid to the tenant.

Why has my housing and council tax benefit entitlement changed?

Your circumstances may have changed e.g. savings, income, rent, someone moving in or out of your household, or someone in your household having a significant birthday – 10, 16, 18, 25, 60, 65 or 80 years.
Your entitlement to other benefits administered by Job Centre Plus or the Pension Service may have changed or been cancelled by The Department of Work and Pensions. This means that you may need to complete a new application form.
You may have been overpaid housing benefit or council tax benefit and your entitlement may have been reduced to recover the outstanding amount.

If I qualify when will I be paid from?

Housing and council tax benefit entitlement normally commences from the Monday following the date that you first indicated to the Council's Benefit Section, or any associated office, that you wished to claim housing and council tax benefit, provided that you then submitted your application within one month of that date of first contact.
However, if you apply during the week in which your tenancy or Council Tax liability starts then benefit will be paid from that date. It is important therefore to submit your application as soon as possible. Please don't wait until you have all of the supporting evidence that is required. For example you can submit your claim with 3 payslips even though 5 are requested. The remaining 2 can be submitted when they are available as long as that is within 4 weeks of submitting the original claim.

If I rent from a relative will I be able to claim Housing Benefit?

If you pay rent to a landlord who is also a close relative and you live in the same property then you will not be able to claim housing benefit.
If you pay rent to a landlord who is also a close relative and you do not live in the same property then you may be able to claim housing benefit. However the Council will need to ensure that the tenancy meets all the criteria of a fully commercial arrangement and will probably ask you for more details in support of your claim.
The Council cannot normally pay housing benefit if you are renting from a relative, a property that you previously owned, or if you are paying rent to a former partner/spouse.

If someone comes to live with me will this affect my housing benefit and council tax benefit?

If that person is your spouse, civil partner or partner (same or opposite sex) then you will need to be re-assessed as a couple and that will involve taking account of your joint circumstances.
If the person is aged 18 or over, and lives with you on a non-commercial basis they will need to be treated as a 'non-dependant' for housing and council tax benefit purposes, and in most situations this will affect your entitlement. Normally a non-dependant deduction will be made from your entitlement based upon the circumstances of the person new to your household.
To prevent any overpayment of housing and council tax benefit it is always safer to report all changes in your household/family arrangements and the Council will then be able to advise if the change affects your entitlement.

I am a student can I claim housing and council tax benefit?

In certain circumstances some students can claim housing and council tax benefit for example lone parent students, or if you are the partner of a student. However, the rules regarding definition of a student and eligibility for HB/CTB are complex so you are advised to contact the Benefit Section for advice.

I am on Income Support/Income Based Job Seekers Allowance - Do I still need to make a claim for housing and council tax benefit to the Council?

The fact that you are in receipt of one of these benefits does not give an automatic entitlement to housing and council tax and a claim must always be submitted to the Council. When claiming Income Support or income based Job Seekers Allowance a housing and council tax benefit application form (called an HCTB1 form or Local Authority Input Document) is provided by the Department for Work and Pensions and should be completed and returned to them. They will pass that form to the Council but you are advised to check that the Council has received it.
Receipt of form HCTB1 or Local Authority Input Document, along with confirmation of entitlement to Income Support or income based Job Seekers Allowance, will usually, but not always, allow the Council to award housing benefit or council tax benefit without carrying out any further enquiries into your household or income. However, further information may be required (such as rent details) and you may be asked to provide this information by completing the Council's own housing and council tax benefit claim form.

I cannot afford to pay the difference between my housing benefit and my rent?

In certain circumstances the Council may be able to award you a Discretionary Housing Payment allowance of part, or all, of the shortfall between your housing benefit and your rent. The allowance is not a permanent award but is paid for a short period to help those with financial difficulties that temporarily affect their ability to pay their rent for example they need time look for more affordable accommodation or they have been unable to work due to illness.

I have just started work and no longer qualify for housing benefit. How can I pay my rent until I get paid?

If you have been in receipt of qualifying benefits for at least 26 weeks and inform the Council within four weeks of the date that you start work, you may be entitled to an additional four weeks housing benefit. A qualifying benefit is Income Based Job Seekers Allowance, Income Support, Income Related Employment and Support Allowance, Incapacity Benefit and Severe Disablement Allowance. This is called 'Housing Benefit Run On' or 'Extended Payment'. For further information please contact the Benefit Section.

I have received an invoice, how can I pay this?

Payment can be accepted by cash - only at the main Council Offices and by cheque - at our Customer Service centres or by post. Payment can be made by card either online using our payment web page or over the telephone on Leicester (0116) 257 2850. You will need your invoice reference number when making a payment.

What can I do if I am not happy with the Council's decision about my claim?

If you are unhappy with a decision you can ask us for an explanation and a more detailed breakdown of how your claim has been assessed. This is called a 'statement of reasons'.
If, after receiving a statement of reasons, you want the decision to be looked at again you can ask for it to be reviewed by another benefit officer, not the one who made the original decision. This is called a 'reconsideration'.
If you are still unhappy, you can formally appeal against the decision which will mean it is considered by an independent tribunal organised by the Appeals Service, who are independent of the Council.

What happens if I am overpaid housing and council tax benefit?

Any amount of overpaid housing benefit will normally be recovered from the claimant or, in certain circumstances, the landlord.
Any amount of overpaid council tax benefit will normally be added back on to your Council Tax liability.
If the overpayment is the result of an error on the part of the Council, the Department for Work and Pensions or any other relevant official organisation, and the person receiving the housing and council tax benefit couldn't have reasonably been expected to know that they were receiving too much benefit, then it will not usually be recoverable.
If the Council believes that you are liable to repay the overpaid housing and council tax benefit you will be informed in writing of the amount of overpayment and the period that it relates to.

What is an overpayment of housing and council tax benefit?

Any amount of housing and council tax benefit which has been awarded but to which there is no entitlement, whether on initial determination, or as subsequently revised on review or further review.

Will council tax benefit cover all of my council tax?

If you are jointly liable for the council tax then your council tax benefit will only cover the percentage of the council tax for which you are liable. For example if two people are jointly liable and you claim council tax benefit but the other person doesn't then only your 50 per cent of the council tax will be paid by council tax benefit.

You may have a "non-dependant" living with you (this is someone aged 18 or over who is not legally dependent upon you), and an amount is deducted from your housing benefit based upon the circumstances of the non-dependant. The housing benefit scheme expects that the non-dependant will contribute towards the cost of the rent.

Will housing benefit cover all of my rent?

You can only get help with your rent for things that are eligible. Amounts included in your rent for things like water rates, lighting, meals and heating are not eligible for housing benefit.
You may have a 'non-dependant' living with you (this is someone aged 18 or over who is not legally dependent upon you), and an amount is deducted from your Housing Benefit based upon the circumstances of the non-dependant. The housing benefit scheme expects that the non-dependant will contribute towards the cost of the rent.
If you are renting from a private sector landlord then the amount of housing benefit that you receive will be based upon a maximum rent figure for your property/tenancy which is provided by the local Rent Service. This maximum rent figure will be less than your actual rent paid in situations where your accommodation is larger than you need, or the rent for your property is higher than the local average for similar properties.
In most instances, new claims made now, the information regarding the Rent Service will not apply to tenants renting from the private sector whose housing benefit is paid under the Local Housing Allowance Scheme.

Will Someone Come to Visit Me About My Benefit Claim?

The Council administers housing and council tax benefit in accordance with the requirements of local and Government targets to reduce fraud and error. These involve reviewing housing and council tax benefit entitlement of all claimants on a regular basis. Such reviews can be by telephone, letter or visit and the Council employs all of these methods. In most cases visits will be by prior appointment but sometimes it is necessary to carry out an un-notified visit.
If you are someone who, because of age or disability, cannot get into one of the Council's benefit contact points, then you can ask for the Benefit Visiting Officer to come to see you at your home. Council Officers always carry an identity badge, issued by the Council. Please make sure you check this badge before letting anyone into your home.

Freedom of Information Requests (1)

ReferenceDateRequest
2011 September 2917 Oct 2011Unpaid Debts Written Off by Council

Last updated: Tuesday, 18 March 2014 3:51 pm

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