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How can I claim benefit?

If you're on a low income and need help paying your rent or council tax, you can make a claim for housing benefit, council tax support (if you're over state pension age) or council tax reduction (if you are working age). It's your responsibility to make a claim. You should not rely on anyone else to make a claim for you unless you're incapable of making a claim yourself at the time.

You can find out which claim forms you need to complete by using our online toolkit below:

You should send your application as soon as possible as housing benefit and council tax support is not normally backdated. See below for more information.

Once the form has been completed you will be advised of the original documentation you need to provide for the Benefit Section. If you don't have all of the information, you should still submit your application. If any more documentation is needed, you will be advised and given a time limit in which to provide the additional information.

Find out more about Council Tax reduction.

If you need help completing the online form, a member of staff can help you at the Council reception.

If you're incapacitated it may be possible to arrange for a Visiting Officer to come to your home to help you complete your application. For more information, call 01277 312500.

How long will my benefit or support last?

Housing benefit and council tax support is awarded until you no longer want to receive it or are no longer entitled.

You must tell the Benefit Service of any change in your circumstances, such as if you move, or if your income changes. For more information, visit Changes in Circumstances.

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 don't tell us straight away about the change in circumstances. If we find 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 we're informed of you intention to make a claim. This is normally the day you submit your online application.


Your housing benefit or 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. We 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. We look at the evidence and consider 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.