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Council Tax & Housing Benefit

 
Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support provide help towards meeting rent and/or Council Tax liability for people in receipt of Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance (Income Based) or any other low income.
In order to claim help with rent and Council Tax a completed application must be submitted together with any supporting documentation.
 
 
A calculator is available to enable you to decide if you wish to claim Council Tax Support/ Housing Benefit, it will show you whether or not you are likely to qualify. Note that it provides and ESTIMATE only. More information about the Benefits Calculator.
 

Link to Regulations for Council Tax Support (default) scheme below

www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2012/2885

Barrow Borough Councils Vision Statement. 

The Council's vision for the Benefits Service is to pay the right people, the right benefit, at the right time

 

New Claims

You can claim Housing Benefit/Council Tax Support if:-
  • you are on Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance or employment and Support Allowance.
  • you are on a low income (this includes people who are self employed)
  • you have a liability to pay rent and or council tax.
You cannot get Housing Benefit/Council Tax Support if:-
  • you, or your partner between you, have more than £16,000 in savings.
A partner is someone you are married to, or someone you live with as if you are married to them.
 

Second Adult Rebate

Second Adult Rebate is for people who would not qualify for Council Tax Support because their income is too high; but have other people living with them who are on a low income, the person who is responsible for Council Tax must make the claim.  You normally cannot claim a Second Adult Rebate if you are married or have a partner that lives with you, however there is an exception to this rule.  To claim a Second Adult Rebate we would need to see the income details of the adult(s) living with you.  We do not need your income/capital details. 
 
Link to our Benefits Calculator to get an estimate of what benefit you may be entitled to if you make a claim.
 
 

How do I claim?

If you claim Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance, you can make your claim for Housing Benefit via the DWP. (The DWP are part of the Department of Works and Pensions).
 
They will send the form to us with proof of your Income Support/ Job Seeker Allowance (income based)/ Employment Support Allowance claim.
 
Alternatively, you can complete our Housing Benefit/Council Tax Support application form and provide it to us direct. (You will also be expected to provide supporting documentation along with your claim form.)
 
Even if you have not claimed income support or job seekers allowance (income based), you can claim Council Tax Support if you are on a low income.
 
You can get the claim form by contacting us, or you can download forms here:

Application forms are also available from Liberata's offices at the Customer Service Centre in Barrow Town Hall.

Supporting Documentation

Barrow Borough Council has signed up to the Verification Framework (a government anti-fraud initiative). This means that a high level of supporting documentary evidence must be submitted when making any claim for Benefit.
 
Only original documents are acceptable NOT photocopies.
 
Examples of some of the proof needed.
National Insurance Number:
  • National Insurance number card.
  • Benefit entitlement letter.
  • Pay slip from current employer.
Evidence of rent payments, other than those made to the Council:
Two proofs of identity:
  • Birth or adoption certificate.
  • Passport (current & valid).
  • National Insurance number card.
  • Current driving licence.
  • Recent utility bill in your name.
  • Pay slips from current employer.
  • Private Pension Slip.
  • Medical Card.
  • Evidence of you or your partner being self employed:
  • Up to date accounts.
  • If you do not have up to date accounts ask for an estimate of self-employed earnings form.
  • Self employed earnings form  (MS Word 863 kb)
If you or your partner work:
  • Pay slips for you and your partner
                     - if paid weekly, the last 5 pay slips
                     - if paid fortnightly, the last 3 pay slips
                     - if paid monthly, the last 2 pay slips
  • If these are not available ask your employer to complete a Proof of earnings form (MS Word 69.5kb)
Evidence of any benefits being received:
 
One of:
                 - Letter of entitlement,
                 - Bank statements showing these payments.
 
Any other money coming in:
  • Maintenance a letter from the person paying the money to confirm how much they pay and how often or at least two bank statements showing these payments.
  • Capital, savings etc.
  • Consecutive bank statements showing a minimum of two months transactions.
  • Passbook. This must be updated to show all interest received.
  • Share certificates
  • National Savings certificates
  • Unit Trusts etc.

For anyone who lives in your household:

  • Income, Benefits, savings etc. documents as described above.

If you or your partner have children who live with you:

  • Your Child Benefit letter of entitlement

If you or your partner pay for child care:

  • A letter from your registered childminder/ organisation to confirm
                     - their full name and address
                     - their registration number 
                     - the name of the child they look after 
                     - how much is paid and how often.

If you or your partner own a property other than the one you live in you need to contact Liberata's office.

Please remember we need to see original documents not photocopies.

 

Claim Start Dates and Backdating

The Start Date of Your Benefit Claim

Legislation requires your claim for Benefit/Support must be made in writing, either on a benefit application form or by letter.
 
Normally we will start your claim from the Monday after we receive your application form or letter. It is therefore very important that you get your application form or letter to us as soon as possible because it affects the date your benefit claim will start from.
 
We can also register your interest in claiming benefit by telephone (General Enquiries - Tel 01229 404242, 8.30 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 8.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. on a Friday), we will send you an application form that will have to be completed and returned to the Benefit service within 1 month of the date you contacted us. In this instance your claim start date will be the date you contacted us by telephone.
 

Backdating

If there has been a reason which stopped or delayed you applying for Housing Benefit/Council Tax  Support you can ask for your claim to be 'backdated' so that it starts from an earlier date.
 

The Rules on Backdating

You can only ask for a backdate if there is a reason why you were unable to apply for your benefit/support earlier. If you disagree with the date your claim starts from for any other reason you can appeal against the decision. Link to information on how to appeal.
 
In order for a backdate of Housing Benefit/Council Tax Support to be allowed you will have to show 'good cause' why you did not apply earlier. There is no formal definition of 'good cause', each case will be decided according to its own individual situation. There are no formal time limits on making a backdate request, but the maximum period that a benefit claim can be backdated is six months from the date we receive the backdate request for working age people, and three months from the date we receive the backdate request for pensioners.
 

What To Do If You Think Your Benefit Is Wrong

When you apply for Housing Benefit, we will give you a decision in writing about your claim. If you disagree with it, you can ask us to look at it again.
There are different ways in which you can do this. You can contact us to:
  • ask us to explain our decision;
  • ask us to look at your claim again; or
  • appeal against our decision

You must be the person affected by our decision to ask us for any of these options. 

Who is a Person Affected?
A person affected is :-
  • A claimant.
  • Someone acting on behalf of the claimant who is appointed by the Courts.
  • Someone who the Council agrees is appointed to act on behalf of the claimant.
  • A landlord - but only in matters relating to whom payment of Benefit is to be made.
  • An agent - but only in matters relating to whom payment of Benefit is to be made.
  • Any person from whom, it is determined, an overpayment is to be recovered.
This means that only the claimant can ask the Council to revise a decision concerning the calculation of a claimant's entitlement; and that the landlord or agent can only ask the Council to revise a decision about whether payment should be made to a landlord and whether the decision to recover an overpayment from a landlord or agent has been correctly made.
 

What should you do if you are not happy with the Council's decision?

You can ask us to give you a statement in writing to explain how we made our decision.  This does not affect your right to appeal against our decision. The time we take to provide the statement will mean you have more time to ask us to look at our decision again or appeal to the Tribunal Service.

If you want us to look at the decision again you must write to us within one month of the date on the decision letter. If there are special circumstances which mean you cannot write to us within one month, you must contact us to explain because we may still be able to look again at our decision. If we can change our decision we will send you a letter explaining our new decision.  If we cannot change our decision we will send a letter explaining why and you have one more month to appeal to the Tribunal Service.

If you want to appeal against the decision you must appeal in writing to us within one calendar month of the date on the decision letter.  The tribunal  hearing is made up of people who are independent from us.  It is important you give your reasons for appealing because the tribunal does not have to look at anything you don't mention in your appeal letter.

 

Will the person have to attend the Tribunal?

Tribunals are held locally. The Tribunals Service will write to the person to tell them of the date, time and place of their hearing. They will also be asked if they want to attend or whether they would prefer the Tribunal to consider their case without them being present, this is called a 'paper hearing'.
 
In most cases the Tribunal will consist of only one panel member who is a legally qualified person. If, however , complicated financial matters are to be considered a financially qualified person will also be present. The Clerk to the Tribunal and the Council's representative may also be present.
 

What if I am not happy with the Tribunal's decision?

If the Council or the person affected feels that the decision of the Appeal Tribunal is wrong in law they can seek leave to appeal to the Social Security Commissioners.
 

Further Information

If you have any further questions regarding appeals you can contact us using the details above.
 

Important Notes

The amount of Benefit payable is a matter between the Council and the claimant. Only the tenant can ask the Council to review the amount of Benefit payable. If the Council reduces a tenant's benefit to recover an overpayment in respect of a previous address, the current landlord cannot appeal against the decision to recover that overpayment.
 

Change of Circumstances for Current Claims

If anything happens during this time which might affect how much benefit you get, you must tell us immediately.
 
If you don't tell us about a change, and we pay you too much benefit, you may have to pay it back.
 
Download change of circumstance form pdf 1423kb
 
You must tell us about the following changes:-
 

Changes to the money you get.

Please tell us if:
  • you start or stop getting Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance or Employment Support allowance.
  • you start or stop getting Child Tax Credit or Working tax Credit.
  • the money you or your partner gets increases or decreases.
  • the money non-dependants get increases or decreases.
  • there are any other changes in the money people in your home get. For example, someone starts getting Disability Living Allowance.

Changes in your home.

Download change of address form pdf 189kb

Please tell us if:
  • you change your address.
  • the number of people in your home changes - for example, someone has a baby.
  • a partner comes to live with you (including Civil Partnerships).
  • a partner leaves.

Other changes.

Please tell us if:
  • you, or your partner, go into hospital.
  • you, or your partner, become a student, or stop being a student.
  • the amount of savings or capital you have changes.
You do not have to tell us about changes in age (for example, if one your children becomes 11 years old), as we will have this information already.
 
 

Overpayment

An overpayment is when we pay you or your landlord an amount of Housing Benefit/Council Tax Support that you were not entitled to receive. If we give you too much benefit, we will send you a letter.
 
The letter we send you will tell you:-
  • why we gave you too much benefit,
  • how much the overpayment is,
  • if you have to pay back the amount,
  • how you can appeal if you think this is wrong.
We will usually ask you to pay back the amount we have overpaid, this is called a recoverable overpayment. We can recover all overpayment except if they are caused by official error which you could not reasonably have known about when you were paid or told about your benefit.
 

Why does overpayment happen?

They happen for various reasons, below are some examples:

  • you may have forgotten to tell us that your income has increased
  • somebody may have moved into or out of your home
  • you may have moved home and not told us
  • you may have started work or changed jobs
  • if you have other adults living with you and their circumstances change

You must tell us about any changes that occur as soon as possible and not rely on anyone else to do it for you. Even if you have told the Department of Work and Pensions about your change in circumstances, you must still let us know as well.

Can the overpayment be reduced?

In some circumstances we may be able to reduce the amount we overpaid you if you can tell us about your correct circumstances throughout the period of the overpayment.  If we give you benefit for the period you were overpaid it is called underlying entitlement.  If you do have underlying entitlement which means you were entitled to receive some of the benefit, we will use this to reduce the overpayment.

 

Renewals and Interventions

There is no renewal process for claims, but periodically the Council is required to review individuals claim details.
 
To do this we will send you an application form to gather your current circumstances/ incomes, and compare those against the information we current hold for your claim.
 
Download review form pdf 1383kb
We may choose to visit you to collect the completed form, or deal with the matter by post.
 

Discretionary Housing Payments

Discretionary Housing Payments are extra payments to help with housing costs.  Discretionary Housing Payments provide people with further financial assistance when the Local Authority considers that help with housing costs is needed.  You can only apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment if you are currently entitled to Housing Benefit.  You can obtain an application form from the Customer Service Centre at the town hall or by downloading a form.

Download application form for Discretionary Housing Payment pdf 59.3KB