Housing Benefit & Changes to Council Tax Benefit
From April 2013 the UK Government have removed council tax benefit. The Scottish Government will create a new scheme and local councils will run it, it is called Council Tax Reduction and has to be applied for annually. All Change of Circumstances have to be notified with 28 days.
The UK Government has reduced the amount of money that they will give the Scottish Government to run the scheme. The Scottish Government and local councils have agreed to make up the difference until April 2014. If there is no change in your circumstances then the amount of support you receive should not be cut from 1st April 2013. Further information will be provided to you with your next annual Council Tax statement.
What should I do?
- If you are worried about being able to afford to pay your rent and/or Council Tax from April 2013 you should ask for advice now. If you don’t pay your rent you could lose your home, so talk to us about different ways to pay.
- Talk to us about transferring to a smaller home or taking in a lodger.
- Your Housing Officer can help you to register for a smaller house that better suits the size of you and your family. As well as paying less rent you will also pay lower bills for things like council tax, gas and electricity.
- A smaller home is more manageable and needs less housework. Contact your council to ask about extra financial help. Councils have a limited amount of money available to make Discretionary housing payments towards housing costs. Your Council may prioritise your claim if you have a disability and your house has been adapted.
- Make sure you are claiming all the benefits you can – for example money to help with the costs of a disability. Dunbritton has a dedicated Tenancy Officer who can help you with these matters if you live in Argyll and we have a partnership agreement with Citizen’s Advice Bureau, if you live in West Dunbartonshire.
Getting help with my rent payments
Housing Benefit - What is it?
You may be entitled to Housing Benefit if you are on a low income and need help to pay your rent. Please ask us if you need to know more.
Housing Benefit will not help you to pay the cost of gas, electricity, water and telephone services you use in home. If you think you may be entitled to help with your rent and have not made a claim for Housing Benefit, you should do so immediately. Remember it is your responsibility to make sure you complete your Housing Benefit claim form in full and on time. We will help you to fill in a Housing Benefit Claim form if you require assistance.
How do I apply for Housing Benefit?
- Complete a housing benefit claim form - available from Dunbritton’s office or local council offices.
- Provide the right information – evidence of identity, income, savings and rent. Original documents must be provided as photocopies cannot be accepted.
- Hand in your claim and all evidence - to your local council office or if you live in North Ayrshire you can hand your form in at our office.
Can I get backdated payments?
If you think you could have received Housing Benefit during the six months (three months for those over 60) and have a good reason for not being able to claim it earlier, you may be able to get your benefit backdated. Good reasons for not claiming previously may include: hospitalisation, severe health problems or family bereavement. Unfortunately, saying that you didn’t know you could claim will normally not be considered as a good reason.
How do I make a backdate claim?
To make a backdated claim, you will need to write, stating the date you want claim backdated to. You will also need to explain why you were not able to claim at an earlier stage and enclose any supporting evidence (eg a letter from your doctor or social worker).
If backdate is refused, is that it?
If the backdate is refused, you can appeal the decision within one month of receiving notification of refusal. If the appeal is refused, you can ask the council to refer your claim to the appeals service who will arrange a tribunal hearing.
Is there anything I need to do when Housing Benefit is being paid?
Any changes in your income or anyone living at your tenancy should be notified to your local council office. If you do not report changes, you could lose out on benefit or face a large bill when Housing Benefit later find out you were paid too much. In some cases Housing Benefit will raise fraud action, if they feel that you deliberately failed to inform them of something.
July 2015 – Budget Announcement Reply
In response to the 2015 Budget, David Holmes CBE, Chair of the End Child Poverty coalition, said:
“The good news on the minimum wage will help many but the bad news on tax credits and children’s benefits will mean families with children will be hit hard. It is difficult to see how this will not impact on levels of child poverty".
“Today’s Budget means that over the next five years an extra £46 billion will be taken from social security spending. This is a huge cut and much of it from working families. The biggest cuts are to in-work benefits and tax credits: some £20 billion is being saved by lowering the amount people can earn before benefits start to be withdrawn and by increasing the rate at which in work tax credits are withdrawn as they earn more".
Argyll & Bute Application for Housing Benefits, Local Housing Allowance, Council Tax Reduction and Second Adult Rebate Application Form
WDC Housing Benefits and Council Tax Reductions Application Form