Housing benefit and council tax support

Council tax support and housing benefit help people low incomes to pay for their housing costs and council tax.

To find out if you are eligible, and what type of benefit you could claim, visit our online benefits calculator.

Find out more using the links below:

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What is housing benefit?

Housing benefit helps people on a low income pay for their rent.

You do not have to be unemployed or unable to work to claim housing benefit. You can apply if you are working and earning a low wage.

The amount of housing benefit you will get will depend on:

  • your income
  • your savings or capital
  • the size of accommodation you need
  • the local housing allowance (if you are a private tenant)
  • the amount of your rent, or your local housing allowance (if you are a private tenant)
  • the number of and other people living with you

You will not be able to claim housing benefit if you have savings of £16,000 or more, unless you also get the guarantee credit part of the pension credit you may still qualify.

To find out how much housing benefit you could get, please check our online benefits calculator.

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What is council tax support?

Council tax support helps people on a low income pay for their council tax bill. Until 1 April 2013 council tax support was called council tax benefit.

You do not have to be unemployed or unable to work to claim council tax support. You can apply if you are working and earning a low wage.

You can also apply for council tax support if you own your own home.

You will not qualify for council tax support if:

  • You have savings over £6,000, unless you get the guaranteed credit part of pension credit.
  • You are living with / paying board to a close relative (although second adult rebate may be claimed by the homeowner if they are of pensionable age).
  • You are from outside the UK and do not have recourse to public funds.

To find out how much council tax support you could get, please check our online benefits calculator


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How are housing benefit and council tax support calculated?

Housing benefit and council tax support are calculated by comparing how much income you get each week against the amount of money the government says you and your family need to live on each week (called your applicable amount).

Your applicable amount represents the basic living needs of you and your family, if you have one. 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.

Try using our online benefit calculator to see if you will qualify for benefits, and how much you could get.

Key factors we consider

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 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)


  • 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.
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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 we pay benefits and council tax support to you

We pay housing benefit and council tax support in the following ways:

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.

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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How to apply

To apply for housing benefit and council tax support, you will need to fill in a claim form. Here's how:

  • Download and print off a housing benefit and council tax support claim form
  • Visit our offices at Frog Lane in Lichfield or in Burntwood Library to pick up a claim form.
  • If you need more information or would like us to send you a claim form, call the benefits team on 01543 308900. 

As soon as you have filled in the form, send it with all the proof required, to the benefits team. If you do not send all the proof with your claim it may be returned to you.

If you need help filling in your form, call our team on 01543 308900.

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We regularly check claims

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.

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Always report a change in circumstances

Remember that if you don't report a change in your circumstances you could be committing benefit fraud.

To find how to report a change in circumstances, visit our change in circumstances section.

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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.

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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If you have any questions, please email our benefits team or call our team on 01543 308900.

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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.

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

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