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​Housing benefits and the Council Tax Reduction Scheme

If you live in social housing and pay rent to the City of London Corporation, or a housing association, you may be able to get help with paying your rent.

Charges such as heating, water or lighting, are not included, however, communal charges may be eligible.

You can make a claim for the Council Tax Reduction Scheme if you are liable to pay council tax to the City of London.

If you pay rent to the City of London but live outside the Square Mile in the London Boroughs of Hackney, Islington, Lambeth, Lewisham, Southwark or Tower Hamlets, your claim for the council tax reduction scheme must be made to the council in whose area you live.

The amounts of both housing benefits or council tax reductions are worked out according to:

  • your personal circumstances
  • your household income and capital
  • the amount of rent you have to pay
  • if your children live with you
  • if other adults live with you.

Universal Credit – important information

Universal Credit is a new benefit being rolled out across the UK. It is administered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and is now live in the City of London and the surrounding boroughs. It replaces Housing Benefit in certain circumstances for working age people. Whether you claim Universal Credit or Housing Benefit will depend on your postcode and your personal circumstances.

For more information about Universal Credit go to: www.gov.uk/universal-credit

A postcode search will show whether you should submit a claim for Universal Credit universalcreditinfo.net/

If you have any questions on which benefit you should claim please contact the Benefits Section on 020 7332 1622.

Who can apply for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction Scheme

You can claim if you are not in one of the groups eligible for Universal Credit and you pay rent to:

  • a private landlord in the Square Mile
  • City of London Corporation
  • a housing association in the Square Mile.

​Who cannot apply

  • Owner-occupiers cannot claim housing benefit, but can apply for the council tax reduction scheme. (You may be able to get support for mortgage interest if you receive certain benefits. Please contact Jobcentre Plus for further information).
  • If you have more than £16,000 in savings and capital, unless you are in receipt of pension guarantee credit.
  • People living in the same home as a close relative.
  • Full-time students, unless you are disabled or have children.
  • Asylum seekers or those sponsored to be in the UK.
  • Also, there are restrictions on some European nationals receiving benefit.

If you think you may be entitled to housing benefit but are not sure, want to register a claim or discuss your entitlement, contact the Benefits Team.

How do I apply?

To claim you will need to fill in an Claim for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction Scheme application. (4MB)

If you are claiming both housing benefit and council tax reduction from the City of London you only have to fill out one form.

How much will I get?

If you are a private tenant living in the Square Mile the maximum benefit you can get is usually based on the Local Housing Allowance, which depends on the number of bedrooms you are entitled to.

The Local Housing Allowance rates in the City of London are as follows:

  • Shared accommodation rate: £144.84 per week
  • One bedroom rate: £268.46 per week
  • Two bedroom rate: £311.40 per week
  • Three bedroom rate: £365.09 per week
  • Four bedroom rate: £429.53 per week

The four bedroom rate is the maximum housing benefit that can be paid under local housing allowance. The Local Housing Allowance rates are uprated annually each April.

If you live in shared accommodation (without children) or are single and under 35 years old you are normally restricted to the shared accommodation rate.

If you are of working age and live in accommodation that is too large for your needs then you housing benefit may be reduced:

  • by 14% is you have one spare bedroom
  • by 25% if you have two or more spares bedrooms.

The size criteria allow one bedroom for the following in your household:

  • Each single adult.
  • Each couple.
  • All children of the same gender under 16.
  • All children under 10 (regardless of gender).
  • Each disabled tenant.
  • Each partner needing an external overnight carer.
  • All foster children (also applies when no foster children live with you as long as the room isn’t empty for more than 52 weeks).
  • Each child that can’t share a bedroom because of a disability or medical condition.
  • Each adult child in the Armed Forces or each reservist.
  • All external carers who provide overnight care for you or your partner.

If you live within the Square Mile the Council Tax Reduction Scheme can give you up to a 100% reduction from your council tax.

Each council runs its own scheme, so if you live outside the Square Mile you will have to contact your local council to find out the level of council tax reduction you can get.​

Payment methods

Council tenant

Direct into your rent account, paid weekly in advance

Housing association tenant

Direct to your landlord, though you can choose for it to be paid to you. Housing benefit is paid 4-weekly in arrears

Private tenant

Housing benefit will usually be paid direct to you, by cheque or into your bank account. We may pay your landlord direct in certain circumstances.

Council Tax Reduction Scheme

The amount will be deducted from your council tax bill

When will my claim become effective?

​Housing benefit and a council tax reductions usually starts from the Monday following the date a claim is received at this office, but it can start from the date you first contacted us if we receive your claim within a month of this first contact.

You should get the completed claim form back to us as soon as possible. If you cannot send all the proof we require straight away, you can submit it at a later date. You should not delay in sending your form as you may lose benefit.

​​

When does my claim end?

​You will continue to receive housing benefit and council tax reductions until you have a change of circumstances (1250KB) that means you are no longer entitled.

Your award will usually end on the Sunday following the change in your circumstances.

If you have just started work you may qualify for an extra four weeks extended payment, paid at the same rate as the last week of your claim.

You can be entitled to an extended payment if:

  • you or your partner start work or increase your hours, and
  • this is expected to last at least five weeks, and
  • you or your partner had been getting income-based Employment & Support Allowance, Jobseekers Allowance or Income Support for at least 26 weeks, and
  • the benefit has stopped as a result of starting work or increasing hours.

Once your extended payment ends you may continue to get housing benefit and a council tax reduction based on your new circumstances.​

Change of circumstances

If you are already receiving housing benefit or the council tax reduction scheme from us, or you have recently claimed one of these and your circumstances have changed, you must tell us immediately, in writing. You will also need to supply documentary evidence of the change.

Backdating

You must show 'good cause' and clearly state why you failed to claim at the earlier date. Your request will be decided on your individual circumstances and you should provide as much supporting information and evidence as possible.

What is a good reason for not applying sooner?

In order for a claim to be backdated you have to prove that:

  • you have shown good cause to failing to claim earlier and
  • that good cause existed continuously during the period for which backdating is being requested.

Time limits

There are limits as to how far back we can go and these time limits start from when we receive your request for backdating.

Housing benefit and the council tax reduction scheme can be backdated:

  • for up to one month if you are working age
  • for up to three months if you are pension age.

How to apply

You can make a request for backdating at the same time as making your claim:

Overpayments

These occur when you have received too much housing benefit, usually because your circumstances have changed.

When an overpayment of housing benefit occurs we will write to you giving details of the overpayment.

The best way to avoid being overpaid housing benefit is to tell us of any change in your circumstances as soon as it occurs. We will take into account any benefit you should have received if you had told us of the change at the correct time.

How to repay your overpayment?

We can recover your overpayment by

  • making deductions from your housing benefit
  • sending you an invoice
  • making deductions from your earnings if you work for an employer.

Appeals

If you don't agree with a decision we have made regarding your benefits entitlement, you can appeal.

Housing benefits

If you do not agree with our decision and want to appeal against it you can:

  • ask the benefits section for an explanation of the decision - this is known as a 'statement of reasons'
  • ask the benefits section to look at this decision again - this is known as a reconsideration
  • submit an appeal in writing giving reasons why you disagree with the decision.

If you request an internal review, the benefits section will review the assessment of your claim and notify you in writing as to whether or not the decision can be changed.

If we cannot change our decision and you have appealed, we will send details of the disputed decision to the Tribunal Service, who will arrange to have your case heard.

The Tribunal Service is independent of the City of London therefore your appeal will be considered by an independent body. You can choose to have your case considered in writing, to put your case personally or be accompanied by a representative who can help you. The legally qualified person will consider the law that has been used to make our decision and will take into account any facts you may have raised in your appeal letter or at the hearing. If they make a decision that you still do not agree with (or we do not agree with) there is the possibility of a further appeal to the Social Security Commissioners.

Council Tax Reduction Scheme

If you disagree with the decision you can:

  • write to the benefits section and ask for a detailed statement as to how we arrived our decision
  • ask us to reconsider our decision. In this case, will look at your claim again and write to you within two months.

If we cannot change the decision in your favour, or after two months, you can appeal directly to the independent Valuation Tribunal Service

How do I appeal?

Your appeal must:

  • be in writing
  • be signed by the person making the appeal
  • say what is being appealed and give the grounds of appeal
  • a housing benefit appeal must be received in this office within one calendar month of the date of the notification letter. The appeal can only be considered outside this time limit if there are special circumstances.

You should submit all relevant evidence to support your appeal. You will need to provide the original documents. These will be copied and returned to you.

You can send your appeal to

Benefits Section
City of London
Barbican Estate Office
3 Lauderdale Place
London, EC2Y 8EN

benefits@cityoflondon.gov.uk


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