Claiming benefits and Universal Credit
Help with Housing Costs when you are renting
Universal Credit has replaced Housing Benefit for most working age people who need help paying their rent. Universal Credit is administered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and can be claimed online.
If you and your partner (if you have one) have reached state pension age or you live in temporary or supported accommodation you can still claim Housing Benefit.
If you do not fall into one of the above groups, you will need to make a claim for Universal Credit. For more information visit the Universal Credit website.
If you have any questions on which benefit you should claim, please contact the Benefits Section on 020 7332 3937.
Housing Benefit and the Council Tax Reduction Scheme
You can make a claim for Housing Benefit from the City of London if you fall into one of the following groups:
- Both you and your partner have reached state pension age and you live in the City of London and pay rent
- Both you and your partner have reached state pension age and you live on one of our out-of-borough estates and pay your rent to the City of London Corporation
- You have been placed in temporary accommodation by the City of London Homelessness Team
- You live in supported accommodation in the City of London
You can make a claim for Council Tax Reduction if you are liable to pay council tax to the City Corporation.
If you pay rent to the City Corporation 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 for the area in which you live.
Entitlement to housing benefit and/or council tax reduction is 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
If you or someone you know needs access to a computer to make a claim, our lending libraries offer free access to computers, wifi, scanning and low cost printing/photocopying to make sure everyone has equal access to the support that is available to them. They can also offer basic IT skills support and can help you fill in forms.
You don't have to be a member (though we encourage you to sign up) and you can just turn up on the day to use the services.
Visit the wifi, computers and printing page for more information.
More information on Housing Benefits and the Council Tax Reduction Scheme
- Owner-occupiers cannot claim housing benefit, but can apply for the council tax reduction (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.
To claim you will need to fill in a Claim for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction application, which you can download above.
If you are claiming both housing benefit and council tax reduction from the City Corporation, you only have to fill out one form.
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: £154.19 per week
- One bedroom rate: £295.49 per week
- Two bedroom rate: £365.92 per week
- Three bedroom rate: £441.86 per week
- Four bedroom rate: £593.75 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 updated 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 your housing benefit may be reduced:
- by 14% if you have one spare bedroom
- by 25% if you have two or more spare bedrooms
The size criteria allows 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.
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 four-weekly in arrears.
Housing benefit will usually be paid direct to you 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.
Housing benefit and Council Tax Reduction claims usually start 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.
You will continue to receive Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction until you have a change of circumstances that means you are no longer entitled. You will need to fill in the Change of Circumstances form at the bottom of this page to inform us of the change.
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 Council Tax Reduction based on your new circumstances.
If you are already receiving Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction 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.
Download the form at the bottom of this page.
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 for failing to claim earlier and
- that good cause existed continuously during the period for which backdating is being requested.
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 Council Tax Reduction 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:
- by filling out Section 16 on the Claim for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction Scheme application at the bottom of this page.
- you can make a request after you have made your claim either by letter or email the Benefits Team.
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.
If you don't agree with a decision we have made regarding your benefits entitlement, you can appeal.
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 Corporation 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:
City of London Corporation
Barbican Estate Office
3 Lauderdale Place
London, EC2Y 8EN
Email: Benefits Team
Benefit fraud is a criminal offence that occurs when somebody knowingly or dishonestly gets more benefit than they are entitled to, gives false information or misses out information on a claim.
It is against the law to give information which is not correct or not to tell us everything which is relevant to your claim. If you give false information you may be prosecuted.
Below are some examples of changes in circumstance that will affect your entitlement that you would need to inform the City of London Corporation about:
- You are now living with a partner
- Children have left home
- You have started work, or about any other change in earnings
- About any savings or not telling us the right amount
- You have inherited money
- You are going abroad, living abroad, or have changed address
If you have any information about anybody who may be claiming benefit that they are not entitled to, including housing benefit, please report it directly to the Department of Work and Pensions.
Social housing provided by the City Corporation is highly sought after, owing to the location and quality of the housing provided. This makes the City’s social housing desirable to fraudsters, who can make substantial profits from sub-letting. This is called Social Housing Tenancy Fraud and is a criminal offence.