How can I claim benefit?
If you are on a low income and need help paying your rent and/or Council Tax, you can make a claim for Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Support. It is your responsibility to make a claim. You should not rely on anyone else to make a claim for you unless you are incapable of making a claim yourself at the time.
You can make a claim direct to the Council online using our Housing Benefit/ Council Tax Support Application Form.
Do not delay your application as benefit and support is not normally backdated (see below)
Once the form has been completed you will be advised of the original documentation you need to provide for the Benefit Section. If you do not have all of the information, do not delay in submitting your application. If any further documentation is required, you will be advised and given a time limit within which the additional information must be provided.
Original documents must be supplied - photocopies will not be accepted. We do not advise sending original documents by post.
If you need help completing the online form, please come to the Town Hall where a member of staff can assist you.
If you are incapacitated it may be possible to arrange for a Visiting Officer to call on you at home to assist you to complete your application. Please call 01277 312500 for further details.
How long will my benefit/ support last?
Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support is awarded until you no longer wish to receive it or are no longer entitled.
You must tell the Benefit Service of any change in your circumstances, for example if you move, or if your income changes. Further information is available on the Changes in Circumstances web page.
If you delay in telling us about a change in your circumstances, you are likely to be overpaid. We will recover any benefit that you have been overpaid and the amount of Council Tax you are expected to pay may also change. You may also be required to pay a penalty for both Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support if you do not tell us straight away about the change in circumstances. If the Council finds that you have deliberately failed to disclose a material change you may also face a criminal prosecution.
When will my award start?
Your award will start from the Monday following the date the Council is informed of you intention to make a claim. This is normally the day you submit your online application.
Your Housing Benefit/ Council Tax Support award can only be backdated where you can show good cause as to why your application could not have been made earlier. The Council must look at the reason for the failure to make a claim earlier and decide whether any reasonable person of that age, health and experience would, in all probability, have failed to claim in the same way.
Failure to make enquiries does not necessarily mean that good cause has not been shown. The council looks at the evidence and considers whether the person has done what could reasonably be expected.
Ignorance of the law is not by itself 'good cause' - the 'ignorance' must be reasonable (for example where there have been detailed changes in the law). The responsibility for proving good cause lies with the claimant.