This page provides information about how to report changes in your circumstances for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support. The page provides a list of examples of the type of changes you need to report and gives additional information for persons being paid pension credit. The page also includes a downloadable form which you can complete to tell us about changes.
Changes in circumstances can be reported in writing by posting details to:
Benefits, Oadby and Wigston Borough Council, PO Box 5, Wigston, Leicestershire, LE18 1AZ
Alternatively you can visit our Customer Services Centre at 40 Bell Street, Wigston.
Reporting changes in your circumstances
While you are getting Housing Benefit, Local Housing Allowance or Council Tax Support, you must tell us immediately in writing about any changes in your circumstances which may alter your entitlement. If the change means your entitlement increases and you do not tell us within one month of the change then you will lose out on this extra entitlement. If the change means that your entitlement reduces, then you will have been overpaid and we will ask you to repay this.
If you receive Housing Benefit, Local Housing Allowance or Council Tax Support and do not receive Pension Credit, you must tell us in writing about any changes in circumstances which may alter your entitlement. You can do this by downloading the form below or you can also use our online form here.
In 2015 the Tell Us campaign was started for all customers receiving housing benefit and council tax support. The reason for the campaign was to remind everyone of the importance of reporting changes in their circumstances. For further information on the campaign please see the Tell us leaflet (PDF Document, 185.18 Kb) and the Tell Us poster (PDF Document, 154.04 Kb).
The types of changes that you need to report include:
- You or your partner stop getting Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance or Jobseekers Allowance
- You start work, change your job or change your hours
- You move address
- Any change to your or your partner's income, such as a wage increase, a change in state benefits or Tax Credits
- Your savings alter
- You stop getting Child Benefit for one or more of your children
- Any of your children leave school
- Someone comes to live with you
- Someone who was living with you leaves
- There is a change in the income of someone who lives with you
- Your rent changes and you are not a council tenant
- You get married or form a civil partnership, start living together or living together as civil partners or separate
- Any other change which might affect your benefit
If you are not sure whether you need to tell us about something, please contact the Benefits Team.
You must tell us about any changes in writing, within one month of the change happening. If you delay, you may only get an increase in your entitlement (where applicable) from the date you tell us about the change.
If you receive Pension Credit
If you receive Pension Credit from the Pension Service, you do not usually need to tell us about changes to your income. However, you must report the changes listed below to us.
If you are on either the Guaranteed or Savings element of Pension Credit, please tell us about the following changes:
- Someone comes to live with you
- Any change to the income of people who live with you, such as grown-up children or friends
If you are 65 years old or over, there is a 26 week deferral period for the above changes. This means that if someone moves in with you, or someone already living with you starts to earn more money, no change will be made to your claim for 26 weeks. Please tell us as soon as any of the following changes happen:
- Someone who was living with you leaves
- Your rent changes and you are not a council tenant
- You are going to be away from your home for 13 weeks or more
- You get married or form a civil partnership, start living together or living together as civil partners, or separate
- You move address
If you receive Savings Credit only, you must also report:
- Changes to children that you receive Child Benefit for, such as them leaving school
- If your savings increase above £16000
- Income or capital changes for a partner who was not included in your claim for Pension Credit
Real Time Information Referrals (RTI)
Since September 2014 the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) have been sending RTI referrals monthly to the Council's benefits team.The DWP have collected information from Her Majesties Revenues And Customs (HMRC) regarding earnings and non state pension amounts and if they differ from the amounts on the benefit claim then a referral is sent to the Council's benefit team. From this housing benefit and council tax support awards can be recalculated. Where the overpayment amounts are large then a referral will be made to our Fraud Team.
Housing Benefit Matching Service (HBMS)
The DWP send a monthly list of referrals which can include changes to earnings, tax credits, address, household composition etc. These referrals are then investigated by the benefits team and housing benefit and council tax support awards will be recalculated. Where the overpayment is large then a referral will be made to our Fraud Team.
Fraud and Error Reduction Incentive Scheme (FERIS)
The Fraud and Error Reduction Incentive Scheme (FERIS) was launched by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on 24 November 2014 and will run through 2015/16. FERIS will offer financial rewards to local authorities who further tackle fraud and error in their Housing Benefit caseload. Local authorities will be searching for cases where there has been no changes recorded in such areas as earnings, pensions, child care charges, capital over certain periods of time. These claims will be reviewed and recalculated when changes have not been reported. Where an overpayment is large then a referral will be made to our Fraud Team.
If you do not tell us about a change, and you are overpaid Housing Benefit, Local Housing Allowance or Council Tax Support, you will have to repay the overpayment and may be liable to prosecution. If you would like any more information, please contact the Benefits Team.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Last updated: Wednesday, 14 October 2015 4:33 pm