Benefits and welfare advice

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Our Financial Wellbeing service helps you to claim benefits, and provides advice if, for example, you’re struggling to pay your rent.

Our welfare rights advisors can help you with:

  • carrying out a benefit check
  • assistance with applying for certain benefits such as Personal Independence Payment or Discretionary Housing Payments
  • challenging decisions through Mandatory Reconsiderations or Appeals
  • accessing loans from the DWP and grants

We also have a money advice service that can help you manage your money, especially if you’re facing a drop in your income or struggling with debts. Our money advisors can help with:

  • budgeting and prioritising your bills
  • advice and signposting with regard to your finances
  • money management training

There have been a number of changes to benefits over the past few years and many more to come which may affect you. If you have been affected or want to know if you may be affected in the future and you require advice, please contact the Customer Care Line on 0300 123 3456.

Your right to benefits

You can find out what benefits you are entitled to by using the government’s Benefits adviser tool.

If you receive certain benefits such as Jobseekers Allowance, Income Support or Employment and Support Allowance and you need to claim help towards your rent, then you may be entitled to Housing Benefit. It is important for you to pay your rent and if you are having problems please contact your incomes officer to discuss this.

You might also be able to claim Housing Benefit if you’re sick, unable to work because of a disability, on a low income or if you are retired.

1. Apply for housing benefit

Contact your council to find out how to apply for housing benefit. Then make a claim using the form they give you. Remember, dealing with housing benefit is your responsibility.

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Processing your application could take time, so it’s best to apply as soon as you can. Your council will be able to tell you what information you need to help you make a claim.

If you delay making a claim, then you could end up being unable to pay your rent. If you don’t pay your rent, you could lose your home.

Remember to check regularly with your local benefit office to see how they’re getting on with your application.

2. How to challenge a decision

Your local council should send you a letter telling you whether you’re eligible for housing benefit. If you are, they’ll tell you how much you’ll receive per week.

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If you don’t agree with their decision, you must write to them within a month of receiving their letter. You must tell them why you disagree.

You can get help from our Financial Wellbeing team: call us on 0300 123 3456 for more information.

Alternatively, you can get help from your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau (scroll down the page to find the search box so you can find your local office) or ask a local solicitor to help you: but you’ll have to pay for this advice.

3. Tell them if your circumstances change

You must tell the Housing Benefit office of any change in your situation that might affect your entitlement to Housing Benefit. And you must tell them as soon as the change happens.

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Changes they will need to know about include:

  • if you’ve started a new job
  • any changes to other benefits you get
  • any changes concerning the people who live with you (including their income)
  • if you rent has gone up, or down
  • if you’re earning more, or less, from your wages, or investments
  • if a non-dependent person moves in, or moves out, of your home
  • if one of your children turns 16 or 18 years old

If you don’t tell them, they may overpay you: and you will then have to give them the money back.

A non-dependent person is someone who is aged 18 or over and lives with you, but isn’t financially dependent on you: for example, an adult son, daughter, relative or friend. Confused? Call 0300 123 3456 and talk with us.

4. Don’t forget to renew your claim

If the Housing Benefit office contacts you to check your circumstances are the same, you must respond immediately.

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If you don’t, your claim might be suspended or cancelled. Or you might be asked to repay some or all of the money you’ve received.

They may also visit you to check on your circumstances. If they put a card through your door asking you to contact them, you must do this as soon as possible or your claim will be cancelled, and your money will stop.

5. How housing benefit is paid

You can either have it paid to you, or you have it paid directly to us. You’ll need to decide when you fill in your claims form.

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Remember, it’s your responsibility to pay your rent. You can be evicted from your home if you haven’t paid your rent, even if you’re getting Housing Benefit.

If your Housing Benefit is paid directly to us, it’s still your responsibility to tell the Housing Benefit office of any changes that might affect your claim.

6. If they overpay you, pay it back

You might receive more Housing Benefit than you’re entitled to: if you do, pay it back.

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You might receive an overpayment for a number of reasons:

  • if you’ve made an inaccurate statement on your claim
  • if your circumstances have changed, but you’ve not informed Housing Benefit
  • if the Housing Benefit office have made a mistake

If you have received an overpayment, you may have to pay it back.

If your benefit is paid directly to us, and we’re told there has been an overpayment, we will let you know. We will give you the choice of paying the outstanding money into your rent account. If you don’t, then your may end up owing us rent and, if it’s not paid back, you could end up losing your home.

You may be able to challenge the overpayment if you disagree with it. Contact the Customer Care Line for 0300 123 3456.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I qualify for housing benefit?

To find out if you qualify for housing benefit, contact us on 0300 123 3456 or use this helpful online eligibility checker.

I don’t understand this letter I’ve received about my Housing Benefit

If you get a letter from your Housing Benefit office, but don’t understand it, call us. Don’t just leave it for another day. If you don’t respond, you could lose your housing benefit.

Do I need to keep a copy of any letters I send to Housing Benefit?

Yes: make sure you keep a copy of your claim form as well. We would recommend that you either send letters and forms by recorded delivery, or you deliver them in person.

I’ve not heard anything about my Housing Benefit application: what should I do?

If in doubt, call them up. Check with them regularly until they’ve sorted out your housing benefit claim or query.

Improving health, wealth and wellbeing through housing

Improving health, wealth and wellbeing through housing

Improving health, wealth and wellbeing through housing