Housing benefit is paid by each local council to people on a low income to cover or contribute towards the cost of rent.
Who is eligible?
You can claim housing benefit if you are on a low income and you are renting a property from the council, a housing association like East Thames, or a private landlord. You don’t have to be unemployed to apply for housing benefit, although you may not be eligible if you have savings of more than £16,000.
Housing benefit cannot be used to pay mortgages, so if you’re an East Thames shared owner, you may be able to claim housing benefit for the rent payments, but not the mortgage payments. However help for homeowners struggling to pay interest payments may be available through Income Support.
How can I claim?
Housing benefit claims are decided by the benefit office at your local council. To make a claim you need to complete and sign a claim form and return this to the benefit office. Make sure you are given a receipt as confirmation of your application.
Can I make a backdated claim?
It is possible to organise backdated benefit payments by contacting your local housing benefit office. You will be asked to put your claim in writing, explaining why you were unable to claim earlier, for instance if you were ill and therefore unable to make a claim or if you were unaware you could claim housing benefit. Currently your claim can be backdated for a maximum of six months, however from April 2016 this will change and you will be able to backdrate your claims by four weeks only.
What happens if my circumstances change?
A change in your or your household's circumstances will often affect the amount of benefit you can claim. You must tell your housing benefit office about any change in your circumstances within one month of the change happening. If you do not tell them, you could receive the wrong amount of housing benefit, which could result in you needing to pay back money received.
How can I get help to make a housing benefit claim?
If you can’t get to the housing benefit office because you are ill or disabled, your council may be able to arrange a welfare visit instead. The benefits officer can visit you at home to help you fill in your claim forms and collect the information and evidence needed to work out how much money you should get.
At East Thames we also offer a benefits advice service. Our benefit advisers can provide confidential advice and help making sure you’re claiming the benefits you’re entitled to. You can request a home visit or ask for advice over the phone.
Call the welfare benefits team on 020 8522 2040 or email email@example.com.