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Claim Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Reduction

How to claim a reduction in rent through Housing Benefit and/or a reduction in Council Tax through Council Tax Reduction.

Before making a claim, you can read more about Housing Benefit and our Council Tax Reduction scheme to find out if you are eligible. You can also use our benefits calculator to estimate how much help you might receive.
 

Make a claim

You can use the same form to claim for Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Reduction. You can apply for either Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction or both at the same time, just fill in all sections of the form that are relevant to you and what you are applying for.

To make a claim you can:

  • download and print the Icon for pdf claim form [4MB] and return it to the Benefits Team (if you're unable to print the form, you can request one from Customer Services)
     
  • alternatively, whilst we don't have a full electronic claim process yet, you can Icon for doc download our short claim form [787KB] , complete it electronically and return it to us as an email attachment - to secure your personal information, please follow the procedure below:
     
    1. email benefits@westberks.gov.uk letting us know that you would like to submit a new claim
    2. we will email you back via secure email, inviting you to submit your claim form
    3. you should then reply to our secure email and your application form and any other scanned evidence attached to your message will be sent securely

We are currently receiving a lot of emails and therefore there may be a delay between you sending us an email (step one) and our secure response (step two).

You will not lose benefit as a result of delays in our response. As long as you return the form at step three within a month of the date it was issued to you, the start of your claim will be calculated according to the date you first contacted us (at step one).

 

How we collect and use information

We will use the information you give in the form and in any supporting evidence you send us, to process your claim for Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Reduction.

We may pass the information to other agencies or organisations such as the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and HMRC, as permitted by the law.

By law, we may check the information you have provided, or information provided about you by someone else, against other information they hold about you. We may also ask other agencies, organisations, local authorities or government departments to give us information they have about you to:

  • make sure the information is accurate
  • prevent or detect crime
  • protect public funds

We will not give information about you to anyone else, or use information about you for other purposes, unless the law allows us to. West Berkshire Council is the data controller for the purposes of the Data Protection Act 1998.

 

Once you have made a claim

Please do not assume that you will be entitled to full Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction. You should continue making payments towards your rent and/or Council Tax to avoid getting into arrears.

If we have to write to you for further information this may delay the assessment of your claim while we wait for you to reply.
 

If your claim is awarded

We will deduct your Council Tax Reduction from your Council Tax account.

We can usually pay Housing Benefit from the Monday after we receive your claim. If you are a new tenant, we can pay it from the start of your tenancy, but normally only if we receive your form on or before the Monday following the start of your tenancy. We cannot normally pay benefit for any time before you move in.

We will normally pay your Housing Benefit in arrears every two weeks if your rent is charged weekly, or monthly if your rent is charged monthly. You will need to provide us with details of a bank account to receive payment. If you require information about how to open a bank account to receive payment of your Housing Benefit please contact us.

If you are a housing association tenant we will pay Housing Benefit four weekly if it is paid directly to your landlord.
 

If you are not entitled or you disagree with our decision

If we advise you that you are not entitled to Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Reduction, you can ask for a further explanation of our assessment. If your circumstances change at a later date so that you may potentially become eligible, you can apply again.

If you disagree with our Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Reduction decision, you can ask us to look at it again - please see our Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction appeals page for further information.

 

If your circumstances change

If you're already receiving Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Reduction and your circumstances change, you must Icon for doc report the change(s) to us using this form [792KB] .

You may lose benefit or reduction if you do not let us know within one month of a change. If you are late to notify us of a change which causes a decrease in your entitlement, this is likely to cause a benefit overpayment and/or an increase in Council Tax, which you will be liable to repay.

Tell us straight away if:

  • any of your children leave school or leave home
  • anyone moves into or out of your home (including lodgers, boarders and sub-tenants)
  • your income changes or the income of anyone living with you changes - this includes benefits, Tax Credits and earnings
  • you are no longer entitled to Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance
  • your capital or savings change by more than £250
  • you or anyone living with you becomes a student, goes on a Youth Training Scheme, goes into hospital or a nursing home, goes into prison, changes or leaves a job
  • your rent changes
  • you move
  • you or your partner are going to be away from home for more than a month

This list does not cover all circumstances. Please let us know about any relevant changes in writing - a phone call is not enough.

 

Universal Credit

Most new claims for housing costs from working age claimants now need to be applied for through Universal Credit. Please see our about housing benefit page and our Universal Credit page for more details.

 

If you are unable to claim help with housing costs through Housing Benefit, you can still use the claim form to apply for Council Tax Reduction.

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