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FAQs about housing benefit and local council tax support

Find out more housing benefit, universal credit, local council tax support and applying online using the links below:

  1. What are housing benefit, local council tax support and universal credit?
  2. Apply for housing benefit/universal credit or local council tax support?
  3. How much housing benefit/council tax support will I get?
  4. What is the benefits cap?
  5. What is eligible rent?
  6. How is housing benefits paid?
  7. How is council tax support paid?
  8. What is supported accommodation?
  9. What if I receive more benefits or council tax support than I was expecting?
  10. What happens if I have been overpaid?
  11. What if I need extra help paying your rent or moving costs
  12. Why are you checking my claim?
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What are housing benefit, local council tax support and universal credit?

If you are on a low income and need help to pay your rent you can apply for housing benefit or universal credit. If you need help to pay for council tax you can apply for local council tax support.

Find out about how to apply.

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Apply for housing benefit/universal credit or local council tax support?

If you are on a low income and need help to pay your rent you can apply for housing benefit/universal credit. If you need help to pay for council tax you can apply for local council tax support.

Find out about how to apply.

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How much housing benefit/council tax support will I get?

Housing benefit and council tax support are calculated by comparing the income you get each week against the amount of money the government says you/your family need to live (called your applicable amount). Your applicable amount represents the basic living needs of you/your famil. The larger your family the larger your applicable amount. Your applicable amount is made up of three parts:

  • a personal allowance
  • allowances for children in your family
  • premiums, for those with disabilities, pensioners or carers

Applicable amounts are set each year by the government. Find out more on the DWP website.

The amount you could get will depend on you and your family's circumstances. When calculating a claim, we look at:

  • you and your partner's age
  • any disabilities you, your partner or your children may have
  • any children for whom child benefit is payable to either you or your partner

We also take into consideration:

  • your household, including children and other adults living with you
  • your income from all sources
  • any savings and investments you may have
  • the amount of eligible rent (see below) and council tax you are paying
  • the income of non-dependents (other people aged 18 or over who live with you)
  • any premiums you are entitled to (for those with disabilities, pensioners or carers)

Remember:

  • If you have savings of £16,000 or more, you will not qualify for housing benefit, unless you get the guarantee credit part of the pension credit, in which case you may still qualify.
  • If you have savings of £6,000 or more, you will not qualify for council tax support.
  • A cap on the amount of benefits a single person or family can receive was introduced in September 2013.

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What is the benefits cap?

The cap is £500 a week for a family, and £350 a week for a single person. This is known as the benefit cap.

If you are getting more than these amounts, your housing benefit will be reduced and you may have to move to cheaper housing.

The cap amount and the benefits that are affected by the cap will be changing on 7 November 2016. The new cap will be £384.62 per week for a couple/family with children, and £257.69 per week for a single person.

If you are affected by these changes, you should already have been notified by letter from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). They will contact us shortly before the changes take effect and we will then be able to adjust your Housing Benefits accordingly. Until then, any queries you may have should be directed to the DWP.
Once your benefits have been re-calculated,  you may see a large reduction in your weekly payment.

If you are struggling to pay your rent you may qualify for extra help by making an application for a Discretionary Housing Payment - please contact the Lichfield Connects team on 01543 308900 for an application form. There is limited funding available for DHPs – this will only be a temporary measure whilst you find a more permanent and sustainable solution to covering your housing costs.

Are there any exceptions? 

The benefit cap does not apply where any household member receives:

  • Disability living allowance
  • Personal independence payments
  • Attendance allowance
  • The support part of employment and support allowance
  • Working tax credit
  • War widows/widowers pensions
  • Armed Forces Compensation Scheme/Independence Payment
  • Industrial Injuries Benefit (or equivalent as part of a War Disablement Pension)
  • UC payment for ‘limited capability for work and work- related activity’

For more information please visit the Department for Work & Pensions website.

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What is eligible rent?

Before we look at your income, we need to find out how much of the rent that you pay is eligible. There are three different schemes and the scheme we will use for you, depends upon the type of tenancy you have and how long you have lived there.

If you are renting from a housing association, your eligible rent, is the same as your full rent, minus any service charges you pay in addition to your rent, or any rent you pay for the use of a garage.

If you are renting a caravan or boat and pay ground rent or mooring fees, we deduct any service charges included in that figure and will treat the remainder as your eligible rent.

If you are renting from a private landlord, we will use the local housing allowance rules to work out your eligible rent.

We need to know two things to calculate your eligible rent:

  • How many bedrooms your family needs. This is a set figure and will depend upon how many people are in your family and the sex and ages of any children.
  • The location of your home or the house you would like to move to.
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How is housing benefits paid?

We normally pay housing benefits directly to you by cheque or directly into your bank account (by BACS) every fortnight (in arrears). If you would like us to pay your benefits directly into your bank account, we will need your account number and sort code. We can pay your benefits directly to your landlord, and if we do, we will pay it every four weeks (in arrears). If you would like us to pay your landlord directly, please fill in the appropriate section of your claim form, and let us know why you want us to do this. If you receive housing benefit but are more than eight weeks behind on your rent payments, we may pay your landlord direct, even without your permission.

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How is council tax support paid?

You won't receive a council tax support payment. Instead, we take the amount of support you are entitled to off your annual council tax bill. If your bill is not entirely discounted, you will be expected to pay the remaining balance over the course of the year. The amount you need to pay will be detailed in your annual council tax bill which is sent to your home in March each year.

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What is supported accommodation?

Supported accommodation is where the body/person providing the accommodation is also providing the claimant with care, support or supervision and can be provided by:

  • a housing association
  • a registered charity
  • a not-for-profit voluntary organisation
  • an English non-metropolitan county council
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What if I receive more benefits or council tax support than I was expecting?

If you receive more benefit than you are entitled to, we call it an 'overpayment'. Overpayments happen either when a customer doesn't tell us immediately of a change in their circumstances, or if we don't process a change you have told us about promptly.

We are under a duty to collect overpaid benefit and all overpayments are deemed recoverable, except those where we have made an error and the claimant could not have reasonably known they were being overpaid.

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What happens if I have been overpaid?

If you are overpaid we will write to you. The letter we send you will tell you:

  • the reason you were overpaid
  • the period of the overpayment
  • how much the overpayment is
  • if the overpayment is recoverable
  • who we will ask to repay the overpayment
  • how we will recover the overpayment

If you have been paid too much housing benefit, we may either reduce your weekly benefit payment until what you owe is paid back, or we may send you a bill asking you to pay any overpayment back to us.

If we pay your housing benefit to your landlord directly, we may either reduce the benefit payments we make to your landlord, or send your landlord a bill requesting he/she pays back any overpayment. If we ask the landlord to repay housing benefit, you will be liable to refund your landlord the amount he/she has paid back.

If you think we have made the wrong decision about an overpayment, find out how you can question or appeal our decision.

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What if I need extra help paying your rent or moving costs

We have a small pot of funding to help people in real need with their housing costs. This means, even if you already receive housing benefit, you may be able to get some extra money called 'discretionary housing payment' (DHP).   You may also be able to apply for help if you are moving into a smaller house because your housing benefit has been cut. The funding is not enough to support everyone, but if you are in real need we recommend you find out more.

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Why are you checking my claim?

To help detect and prevent fraud, we periodically check people's claims. If we plan to check your claim, we will either write to you or call you to let you know. We will ask you to fill in a claim check form, which you must complete and return immediately.

If you do not return it immediately, your benefits may stopped. Housing benefit fraud is investigated by the Department for Work and Pensions. 


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Phone our contact centre: 01543 308 000
District Council House, Frog Lane, Lichfield, Staffs, WS13 6YY

If you need to contact a team direct, please visit our contacts page for team phone numbers and email addresses.

Opening times

Our main reception at Frog Lane in Lichfield is open Monday - Friday, 8.45am - 5.15pm.