Council tax support and housing benefit

​If you pay rent or council tax for your home and you are on a low income, you may be able to get some help by claiming benefit.
 
The amount of Council tax support/housing benefit you may receive depends on who lives with you, the amount of money you have coming in, other benefits you receive and any savings you have.

To make a claim for Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Support you should use the online application form.

When you make your claim you have one month to supply all supporting evidence and information to us. If you have difficulty obtaining any of the information within the month, you must contact us.

It is your responsibility to make sure you provide the information we ask for. If you do not supply the required evidence or information within one month and you have not contacted us, we will make a decision that you do not qualify for Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support and you will need to reapply.
 
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  • Backdating

    Backdating
    Council tax support and Housing Benefit is normally paid from the Monday following the date a claim is received by the benefits team. If you want benefit to be paid from an earlier date you will need to request backdating.
     
    Making a backdated claim
    If you think you have a good reason for making a late claim you should complete a claim for the period(s) in question and supply all supporting evidence about your income and capital. You also need to request in writing that your claim is backdated giving the period(s) you want your claim to be considered for and give us full details of why the claim was made late. If you have any evidence which may support your backdate request you should also supply that to us.

    Customers who are pensionable age
    If you are pensionable age special backdating rules apply. A claim for council tax support and/or housing benefit can be automatically backdated for a maximum of three months from the date of your application (or the date that you or your partner became of pensionable age if this is later). The law does not allow us to backdate these claims any further even if a customer has ‘good cause’.

    Customers who are working age
    If you are working age we can only backdate your Housing Benefit claim for up to one month and your Council Tax Support claim up to a maximum of 6 months from the date that your written request is received. Backdating for customers working age can only be allowed when ‘good cause’ is shown.

    These are some examples of what might be considered ‘good cause’ for a late claim:
    • you were ill and had no one to make a claim on your behalf;
    • you could not reasonably have been expected to know your rights, for example the law changed;
    • you did not understand that you could claim, perhaps because of age, inexperience, language difficulties or difficulty in understanding technical documents;
    • you were wrongly advised that you were not entitled to council tax support/housing benefit;
    • you were unable to manage your affairs and did not have an appointee or someone else to help you with your claim

    A decision on a backdated claim
    We will write and tell you whether your request has been successful. If the backdate has not been granted and if you are dissatisfied with our decision you can appeal.

  • Benefit and non-dependants

    Council tax support and housing benefit is reduced for each non-dependant living in your home.  A non-dependant is someone aged 18 or over who normally resides with you such as an adult son or daughter, other relative or a friend. For non-dependant couples, the income of both members of the couple are added together to find the gross income figures.

    We do not make a deduction for non-dependants if you or your partner is:
    •  Registered blind
    •  In receipt of Attendance Allowance
    •  In receipt of Constant Attendance Allowance
    •  or in receipt of the care component of Disability Living Allowance (at any rate)

    Or if the non-dependant: 
    •  Is under 18
     Is under 25 and in receipt of Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance (income-based) or Universal Credit (without additional earnings)
    •  Is receiving State Pension Credit (either guaranteed or savings credit or both)
      Is receiving a Work Based Training Allowance
    •  Is in prison or similar forms of detention
    •  Has been in hospital for 52 weeks or more
    •  Usually lives elsewhere (but you will need to tell us their permanent address, otherwise we may still make the deduction)
    •  or is a full time student or student nurse (although a HB deduction applies if the non-dependant works for 16 hours per week or more during the summer vacation)

    In addition, there is no deduction from council tax support if the non-dependant is:
    •  An apprentice
    •  Severely mentally impaired
    •  or a carer

    Special rules for people aged 65 or over:
    If you or your partner are aged 65 or over and
    •  A non-dependant moves in (and a deduction would normally apply to them)
    •  or a non-dependant has a change in circumstances that would mean that a higher deduction should be made.
    then the deduction starts 26 weeks after the non-dependant moved in or they had a change in circumstances

  • Benefit fraud

    We take a hard line stance against benefit cheats. If you suspect someone is claiming benefits dishonestly you can make an anonymous call to National Benefit Fraud Hotline on 0800 854 440. This is a free service, managed by Department for Work and Pensions where you can report suspected benefit fraud in confidence. All information is passed to specially trained staff. Alternatively, you can contact us directly if you would like to report suspected fraud.

  • Benefit payments

    How and when payment is made
    Payment will usually be made straight into a bank or building society account on a Thursday night and should be in the account on the following Monday. Housing benefit is paid every 4 weeks, in arrears.

    Council tax support

    If you are entitled to council tax support, then your entitlement will be credited to your council tax bill for the relevant financial year

    Housing association tenant payments 
    Housing benefit payments can be paid to you or direct to your landlord. 

    Private tenant payments
    In most cases, you will receive the payment and you will have to make arrangements to pay rent to the landlord yourself. 

    When we may decide to pay direct to the landlord

    In exceptional circumstances, we may decide to make payments to your landlord, but this will only happen if there are compelling reasons for us to do so. We may make a decision to pay the landlord if you have rent arrears (in most cases the arrears should amount to 8 weeks or more rent), if you are unlikely to pay your rent or if you are likely to have difficulty in managing your financial affairs.

    If we decide to make payments to your landlord, this can be reviewed at a later date and the decision may change.

  • Benefit overpayments

    If you have been overpaid
    An overpayment is when you have been paid benefit that you are not entitled to. This can happen because:
    •  You left your home and we paid you for a period after you left
    •  You or a member of your household had a change in circumstances or income, which meant you were entitled to less benefit, and we had already paid you at a higher rate
    •  You didn’t tell us that your circumstances had changed and we paid you benefit that you weren’t entitled to

    Reducing your overpayment
    If you have been told you have an overpayment, this could be reduced by a payment of ‘Underlying Entitlement’. If your overpayment happened because we didn’t know what your circumstances were, and you could later provide the true information for the period the overpayment covered and you would have actually been entitled to some benefit, we can reduce your overpayment with the money you would have been entitled to.

    For example:
    • If you started work and we cancelled your claim as we weren’t told how much your wage was. An overpayment was created
    •  If you then provide your wage details at a later date and we decide that you would have been entitled to some benefit for this period. We can reduce your overpayment by the amount you would have been entitled to (up to the level of the overpaid amount. You cannot receive more benefit for this period) 

    An overpayment is not recoverable if we:
    Made a mistake and you could not have known that you were receiving the wrong amount of benefit

    The overpayment is recoverable if you:
    • If you didn’t tell us about a change in your circumstances or income
    •  If you continued to receive benefit that you knew you would not be entitled to

    If the overpayment is recoverable, then we will need to decide who to recover it from.

    We will recover the overpayment from the person who failed to tell us about the information that caused the overpayment. This could be either the claimant or the landlord depending on what the information was. So if an overpayment was caused by the claimant's income increasing, even though the landlord may have been receiving the payments, we would still recover the overpayment from the claimant as the landlord could not have reasonably known he was being overpaid. 

    If you don't agree with the overpayment
    If you don't agree with the amount of the overpayment, you can ask for an explanation of how we worked it out. If you don't agree that there was any overpaid benefit or that you shouldn't pay it back then you can appeal.

    Paying back the overpayment
    If you qualify for ongoing housing benefit we can recover £11.10 per week, more if you are working.
    If the overpayment was classed as fraudulent (following an investigation by a fraud officer) we can recover  £18.50 per week, more if you are working.

    If you do not qualify for housing benefit, we will send you an invoice for the full amount. If this invoice remains unpaid, or an instalment plan is not set up for recovery of the overpayment, we will take further action to get it back. This could include:

    •  Recovery from any state benefits in payment, such as Jobseekers Allowance, Income Support, Disability Living Allowance, and Incapacity Benefit/Employment Support Allowance
    •  Passing the debt to the County Court for collection
    •  Recovery from housing benefit payments paid by another Local Authority if you have moved and are still in receipt of housing benefit

    How to pay
    •  Pay Point - you can make a payment wherever you see a Pay Point sign, including every Post Office. You’ll need to use the barcode on the front of the invoice sent to you
    •  Online – you can pay online
      Phone - call 01257 511000 to pay by phone at any time using your credit or debit card. You’ll need your invoice number
    •  Standing Order - you can set up a monthly standing order with your bank. You will need to give your bank the following information:
    A/C Name: Chorley Borough Council Collections Account
    Sort Code: 20-69-93
    A/C No: 63417069
    Account Branch Details: 23 Market Street, Chorley, Lancashire, PR7 2SY

    Please quote the invoice number as your reference

    I can’t afford the repayments
    If you can’t afford to pay back the overpayment or afford the amount we are deducting from your on-going housing benefit payments you should contact us as soon as possible.

  • Change of circumstances

    Circumstances change all the time and we need to be kept informed of any new information that could affect your benefit claim. It is your responsibility to do this as the Council will not know if income such as tax credits, other benefits or allowances stop, start or change.

    Report a change of circumstances by downloading a form and returning as soon as possible or contact us. You MUST tell us about changes as soon as the change occurs. If you don't you may lose out on extra help or receive a bill for overpaid benefit. If you deliberately fail to report a change in circumstances and you are overpaid as a result, you may also be prosecuted. 

    Changes you need to tell us about
    The changes that you need to tell us about depend on whether you receive Pension Credit.
    These are some of the changes that we should be notified about but the list is not exhaustive and if you are in doubt, please contact us and we can advise you about whether your change would affect your benefit entitlement.

    If you receive Pension Credit from The Pension Service
    Whether you receive Guaranteed Credit, Savings Credit or both Guaranteed and Savings Credit will also affect what changes in circumstance we must know about.
    If you are in any doubt about whether you should report a change in circumstance, report it anyway and we will contact you and tell you if your claim is affected.

    If you do not receive Pension Credit from The Pension Service
    If you do not receive Pension Credit you must tell us straight away about changes to your:

    Household
    •  If any of your children leave school
    •  If anyone moves into or out of your home (for example; children, partners, relatives, friends, lodgers and sub-tenants)
    •  If you or your partner (if you have one) go into hospital, a nursing home, into prison or are going to be away from home but staying within Great Britain for more than 13 weeks OR outside of Great Britain for more than 4 weeks (Great Britain includes England, Scotland and Wales) 
    •  If someone living with you stops or starts work
    •  If you or your partner (if you have one) stops or starts caring for a disabled person
    •  If you or your partner (if you have one) or anybody else who lives with you becomes a student or begins a Youth Training Scheme

    Income
    •  If you, or your partner (if you have one), or someone living with you, stops or starts getting Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance or Employment & Support Allowance
    •  If you stop or start to receive Child Benefit
    •  If you stop or start to receive Attendance Allowance or Disability Living Allowance
    •  If there is any change in the income (either up or down) of anyone who lives with you. For example, wages, benefits, tax credits, pensions, allowances etc.
    If the amount you pay to a registered child minder or child care provider goes up or down
    If you become eligible for student finance such as a student loan or grant, even if you choose not to apply for a loan or grant

    Capital
    •  If there is a change in the amount of you or your partner’s (if you have one) capital, savings or investments. Capital includes land, property (other than the one you live in), premium bonds, cash and money set aside

    Accommodation Details
    •  If your rent goes up or down or the service charges change
    •  If you move address - even if it is to another room in the same property

    If you receive Pension Credit Savings Credit Only:
    If you receive Pension Credit Savings Credit only you must tell us straight away about changes to your:

    Household
    •  If any of your children leave school
    •  If anyone moves into or out of your home or dies (for example, children, partners, lodgers and sub-tenants)
    •  If you or your partner (if you have one) go into hospital, a nursing home, into prison or are going to be away from home but staying within Great Britain for more than 13 weeks OR outside of Great Britain for more than 4 weeks (Great Britain includes England, Scotland and Wales)
    •  If there are any changes to the income or circumstances of anyone who lives with you

    Accommodation Details
    •  If your rent goes up or down or the service charges change
    •  If you move address – even if it is to another room in the same property

    Income
    •  If the income of a partner not included in the Pension Credit claim changes
    •  If there is any change in income (either up or down) of anyone who lives with you. For example, wages, benefits, pensions etc.
    •  If you stop or start to receive Attendance Allowance or Disability Living Allowance

    Capital
    •  If the amount of you and/or your partner’s (if you have one) capital, savings or investments goes over £16,000

    If you receive Pension Credit Guaranteed Credit
    If you receive Pension Credit Guaranteed Credit (either on its own or with the Savings Credit) you must tell us straight away about changes to your:

    Household 
    •  If you or your partner (if you have one) go into hospital, a nursing home, into prison or going to be away from home but staying within Great Britain for more than 13 weeks OR outside of Great Britain for more than 4 weeks (Great Britain includes England, Scotland and Wales)

    Accommodation Details
    •  If your rent goes up or down or the service charges change
    If you move address - even if it is to another room in the same property

    Income
    •  If there is any change in income (either up or down) of anyone who lives with you. For example, wages, benefits, tax credits, pensions etc.
    •  If you stop or start to receive Attendance Allowance or Disability Living Allowance 

    Council tax support/housing benefit appeals
    If we make a decision about your claim to benefit and you do not agree with it you have a right of appeal.

  • Council Tax Support Scheme

    The Council Tax Support scheme provides assistance to residents on a low income to help to pay the Council Tax charge.

    Council Tax Schemes are localised with each Council having its own scheme approved by Members. 

    Since 1 April 2013 all working age customers will have to pay something towards their Council Tax bill, even if you are receiving Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance or Employment Support Allowance, Disability benefits or if you are on a very low income. Under the current scheme, the reduction is 7.5%. This means the maximum Council Tax Support award you can receive is 92.5% of your Council Tax charge.

    If you are entitled to Pension Credit (Guaranteed element) you will receive full help under the Council Tax Support scheme. This means you can receive a maximum Council Tax Support award of 100% of you Council Tax charge. 

    If you are a pensioner and your partner is still working age, as long as you and your partner do not receive Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance or Employment & Support Allowance then you will be treated as a pension aged couple for the purposes of calculating Council Tax support so you will be protected from the 7.5% reduction in Council Tax Support award.  If you receive Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance or Employment & Support Allowance then you will be treated as a ‘working age’ couple and the 7.5% reduction in Council Tax Support award will apply.

    How Council Tax Support is calculated
    Council Tax Support is calculated on a means tested assessment and the level you are awarded depends on the amount of your Council Tax liability, your household income, savings and your household needs. 
     
    You can appeal to us if you are dissatisfied with any decisions we make under the new Council Tax Support scheme. Appeals will be heard by the Valuation Tribunal Service.

    You still have a duty to report changes in your circumstances that may affect your Council Tax Support award and you must do so straight away. 

    Backdating Council Tax Support 
    If you wish to backdate a claim for Council Tax Support, you can do this as long as you show ‘good cause’ for the delay in claiming. The maximum backdate that can be awarded for working age customers is 6 months prior to the date you make the request.
    If you are pension credit age we can automatically go back for a period of 3 months from your date of claim. You do not need to show ‘good cause’ for this’. We are not allowed to go back any more than 3 months.

    Council Tax Support Appeals
    If you do not agree with the decision we have made about your Council Tax Support you can appeal.
    What you can appeal against

    You can appeal to us against the amount of council tax you have to pay for either of the reasons below:
    • You think that, under the rules of the Council Tax Support scheme, we should have given you a reduction on the council tax you have to pay.
    • You think the amount of reduction we have given you under Council Tax Support scheme is not correct.
    You cannot appeal against the rules that are in the Council Tax Support scheme, only about how we have applied the rules to your case.

    How to appeal
    You must appeal in writing telling us why you don’t agree with the decision.  The appeal should include the date of the decision you are appealing against. 

    We should send you a reply within 2 months.

    If you are appealing against a decision that affects your Council Tax Support award, you should write to us stating why you think the decision is wrong.

    We will look at your claim again and reconsider the original decision and write to you again with the outcome.

    If the decision is changed in your favour, the decision will be changed on your claim and any additional Council Tax Support will be credited to your Council Tax account.

    If the decision is unchanged or we have not responded to you within two months, you will have a right of appeal against the decision to the Valuation Tribunal, which is independent of the Council. The Valuation Tribunal will consider your appeal based on the law and the details within the Council's Council Tax Support scheme.

    When writing to you following reconsideration of the original decision, we will tell you how to make an appeal to the Valuation Tribunal. You will have a period of 2 months from the date of the letter to do this.

    If you think you might have missed the time limits, please contact the VTS as they will accept an appeal in certain circumstances.

    The contact details for the Valuation Tribunal Service are:
    CTR Team,
    VTS,
    Hepworth House,
    2 Trafford Court,
    Doncaster DN1 1PN
    Phone number:  0300 123 1033

    For more information about submitting an appeal visit the Valuation Tribunal Service website.
  • Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP)

    These are payments we can make if your council tax support and housing benefit does not cover the full amount of rent or council tax you are charged and you are having difficulty meeting the shortfall from your own finances.

    DHP cannot be used to cover the cost of ‘ineligible’ amounts included in your rent (this includes charges for heating, lighting, water or food). DHP cannot be claimed for council tax when you are entitled to Second Adult Rebate only.
     
    Discretionary Housing Payment
    Anyone who is in receipt of housing benefit, or the housing element of Universal Credit, can claim a DHP towards their rent. Anyone who is in receipt of main council tax support (not including Second Adult Rebate) can claim a DHP towards their council tax.

    To qualify, we must be satisfied that you need further help with your housing costs. The sort of things we would look at when deciding on a DHP are:
    •  whether you have any savings (savings over £3000 would be taken into consideration)
    •  whether you could get help from any other source
    •  whether anyone else in the house (such as non-dependants) are able to help you financially
    •  any assets you have which might be used to help meet the shortfall
    •  whether you have any outstanding loans or debts
    •  whether you could rearrange your finances to ease the situation (and whether you are currently receiving or have received any debt counselling)
    •  what your total income is - all income and all savings (including those which are partly or fully disregarded for housing and council tax benefit) will be taken into consideration

    Discretionary Housing Payment amounts
    There is no limit to how much DHP you could receive (but we cannot pay more than your full eligible rent or council tax charge). There is also no limit to how long we can pay a DHP for. Although generally they are made for short periods of time whilst you take further advice about your financial situation or take other action to improve your situation, such as finding cheaper accommodation.

    Applying for a Discretionary Housing Payment
    You will need to complete a DHP form which helps us collect all the information we need to decide whether you can receive additional help. You should supply any evidence of your expenditure with the form and we may need to contact you to discuss your application or request more information.

    If you apply for a DHP within one month of being notified about your council tax support/housing benefit award, then the DHP will normally start from the date your benefit entitlement started or changed.

    If you would like to apply for DHP then an application form is available to download or you can contact us.

    Payments for Discretionary Housing Payments
    Although DHPs are not payments of council tax support and housing benefit, they will be paid together with council tax support and housing benefit.

    Council tax DHPs are credited to your council tax account. Rent DHPs will be sent to either you or your landlord in the same way as your housing benefit payments.

    If you receive Universal Credit, discretionary payments will also be made on a monthly basis. We will try to pay them at the same time as your Universal Credit payment.

    Changes in circumstances
    If your circumstances change you must notify us, in writing, within one month. We will look at the DHP that we awarded and see whether it needs to be changed. If you are entitled to more DHP then we will pay you more but if you are entitled to less, you may have to pay back some or all of the DHP already paid to you.

    Disagreeing with the amount or period of Discretionary Housing Payment
    If you disagree with our decision about the DHP, you should write to us within one month of the date of the letter telling you about the DHP.

    We will review the decision and change it if we think it is wrong. We will then write to you and tell you the outcome of the review. 

  • Housing benefit appeals

    If you want to know more about the benefit decision we have made, or if you think the decision is wrong, you should get in touch with us within one month of the date of the decision or we may not be able to look at the decision again.

    You can ask us to reconsider our decision without making a formal appeal.

    Reconsidering a decision
    When you ask us to look at a decision again, we will check that the decision is correct. If we find that the decision is wrong we will send you a new decision notice.

    If the decision is correct we will send you a letter telling you that we cannot change it. The letter will confirm our original decision.
     
    If you still disagree with our decision, you have one more month to appeal, from the date of the new decision letter

    Making an appeal for housing benefit
    An appeal can be made at any time within one month of the date on the decision letter. If you have already asked us to reconsider our decision, you can still appeal.

    Your appeal must be made in writing and must be signed by you. You will need to tell us which decision you are appealing against (the date will be on the top of the decision letter) and you should give reasons for your appeal. You should also supply any further information or evidence you have which may support your appeal.

    If you want more information about asking us to look at a decision again, or making an appeal, you can contact us.

    The appeal hearing
    The appeal will be heard by an independent tribunal. For more information see H M Courts & Tribunal Service website.

    If you need independent help with your appeal you can contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau or if you want help to fill in forms or write letters about your appeal contact the LCC Welfare Rights service. They can represent you and they will sometimes go with you to the tribunal that hears your appeal. 

  • Housing benefit information for landlords

    This area offers advice and information to help landlords understand the rules relating to a tenant's claim for housing benefit.

    Please note, even if we are paying a tenant's housing benefit to you, we cannot discuss every aspect of the benefit claim with you. We can only tell you the amount of benefit and when you can expect to receive payments.

    Your rights
    As a landlord you can only challenge a decision that directly affects you, for example, not to pay housing benefit to yourself, or a decision to recover overpaid benefit from you.

    Your duties
    If you agree to accept housing benefit payments for your tenant, you have certain responsibilities by law. You must tell us in writing about any change in your tenant's circumstances that might affect their housing benefit entitlement or you may be prosecuted. For example, you must tell us if:
    • The tenant moves out of the property or moves from one room or flat to another within the same property
    • Someone else moves in with the tenant or if someone living with the tenant moves out or
    • You know about changes in the tenant’s income or the tenant gets a job

    Your tenant's entitlement 
    Council tax support and housing benefit are assessed on the individual circumstances of the person making the claim and their family. The amount that they qualify for depends on a number of things, for example:
    • His/her income and their partner’s income if they have one
    • Their savings
    • The number of children who live with them
    • Other people who live with them or
    • Whether they, or someone who lives with them, has any illnesses or disabilities

    How and when we pay housing benefit
    You should remember that it is your tenant who is entitled to housing benefit, not you. We are only sending their payments to you. If the amount of benefit your tenant is entitled to changes, the payments we make to you will also change. We will tell you about any changes in your tenant's benefit so that you can collect the difference between your tenant's full rent and any benefit you receive for them.

    We will pay the benefit straight into your bank or building society account. We pay housing benefit every 4 weeks, in arrears.

    The first payment we send you may not follow this pattern. You will need to register for an eCitizen account to be able to check your payments. You can register at chorley.gov.uk/ecitizen 

    Timescale for processing a housing benefit claim
    We aim to process claims as quickly as possible. However, this might be delayed for a number of reasons:
    • If the claim is not fully completed or there are things missing (in which case we will write to your tenant or, in some circumstances you). You need to make sure that your tenant has a fully completed and signed tenancy agreement or rent book
    • If we are waiting for information from a third party (e.g. DWP) or
    • If we are not satisfied with the information that has been provided in support of the claim (in which case - we will write to your tenant)

    If we do not have all of the information needed, we will not be able to process the claim.

  • Local Housing Allowance

    If you rent your property from a private landlord then your benefit will be calculated using a Local Housing Allowance rate. The rate we apply is determined by the number of bedrooms your household needs and the area the property is in.

    The online bedroom entitlement calculator will tell you how many ‘bedrooms’ your household will be entitled to. This takes into account the number of people in your household, their ages and what sex they are and any disabilities they have.

    Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates
    The number of people who live with you is used to work out how many bedrooms you are entitled to. We do not count other rooms such as a living room, kitchen or bathroom.

    You are entitled to one bedroom for:
    • Every adult couple (married or unmarried)
    • Any other adult aged 16 or over
    • Any two children of the same sex aged under 16
    • Any two children aged under 10
    • Any other child

    If you live in a property where some of the facilities are shared with someone else, you will be entitled to the shared room rate. If you are under 35 years of age and live alone then you will be entitled to the Shared Room rate unless you fall into a group who are exempt from the restriction.

    You can calculate the rooms allowance for your household allowance by using our bedroom calculator.

    If you decide to rent a property which is more expensive than the LHA rate for your household you will have to pay the difference in rent yourself. If the rent is less than the LHA rate then Housing Benefit will be calculated using the actual rent charge. The LHA rates are set annually by the valuation office.

    Disabled customers
    You may be entitled to another room if you need regular overnight care and the care is provided by someone who does not live with you permanently.

    To be eligible for this you must:​
    • Have care arranged and have a room available for a carer;
    And you must be in receipt of:
    • Disability Living Allowance (Care) at the middle or higher rate; or
    • High rate Attendance Allowance; or
    • The Daily Living component of the Personal Independence Payment; or
    • The Armed Forces Independence Payment
    • If a qualifying benefit is not in payment then we would need medical evidence from a GP or other medical profession that supports the requirement for regular overnight care.

    If you are disabled and your partner is your carer you will not qualify for another bedroom, when receiving care the care must be provided by someone who does not live with you.

    From April 2017 you may be entitled to another bedroom if you have a disability which means you are unable to share a bedroom with your partner.

    To be eligible for this you must be in receipt of:
    • Disability Living Allowance (Care) at the middle or higher rate; or
    • Higher rate Attendance Allowance; or
    • The Daily Living component of the Personal Independence Payment; or
    • The Armed Forces Independence Payment;

    We may need to ask for more information about your medical condition and how if affects you if you think you may qualify.

    Disabled children
    You are allowed an additional bedroom if you have a child who is unable to share with a sibling due to a severe disability.

    We would assess the need for another bedroom by considering:
    • The nature of the child's disability and how the disability may affect other children if they were to share a room, such as how often the other child's sleep may be disturbed. This should be supported by evidence from a healthcare professional.
    The child must be in receipt of:
    • Disability Living Allowance (Care) at the middle or higher rate.

    From April 2017 you may be entitled to another bedroom if you have a disabled child or disabled non-dependant who requires overnight care and the care is provided by someone who does not normally live with you.

    To be eligible for this you must:
    • Have care arranged and spare bedroom must be available for the carer; and
    • An extra bedroom has not already been granted for a care to another household member.
    And the child or non-dependant must be in receipt of:
    • Disability Living Allowance (Care) at middle or higher rate; or
    • The Daily Living component of Personal Independence Payments; or
    • Attendance Allowance; or
    • Armed Forces Independence Payments; or
    • If a qualifying benefit is not in payment then we would need medical evidence from a GP or other medical profession that supports the requirement for regular overnight care.

    Changes for LHA customers who are single and under 35
    If you are under 35 years of age, are single and live alone in privately rented accommodation, then the maximum LHA rate you can receive is the shared accommodation rate.

    There are exemptions to the restriction for people who fall into one of the following groups:
    • If you live in housing association accommodation
    • If you are entitled to the 'severe' disablement premium within their applicable amount
    • If you are aged under 22 and leaving the care of a local authority
    • If you require overnight care
    • If you are aged between 25 and 35 and have spent a minimum of three months in a homeless hostel (unless they reside in shared accommodation)
    • If you are aged between 25 and 35 who are subject to 'active multi agency management' (unless they reside in shared accommodation)

    Exceptions to LHA rules

    Housing benefit for housing association tenants
    If you rent your home from a housing association the LHA rules do not apply. In most cases we will calculate your benefit using the full rent charge less any 'ineligible' charges. This means that we cannot pay for personal charges such as heating or lighting which your landlord may include in your rent.

    Other exception to LHA rules are
    • If your tenancy started before 1989 or who have a registered fair rent
    • If you receive care and support as part of your tenancy
    • If you live in hostels, caravan, mobile home or houseboat
    • If your rent includes meals

    Your claim will then be referred to the Valuation Office Agency (formerly The Rent Service) who will make a decision about how much benefit we can pay.

    If you would like more information or would like to talk to someone then please contact us.

    Translated benefit information is available.

    Armed Forces Personnel
    Non-dependants who normally reside in your home and are members of the armed forces are entitled to a bedroom whilst they are away from the home on operations.

    Foster carers
    Approved foster carers are entitled to one additional bedroom where one of the following conditions apply:
    Foster carers who have a child (or children) placed with them
    Foster carers who are between placements (for a period of up to 52 consecutive weeks from the date of their last placement)
    Newly approved foster carers (for a period of up to 52 consecutive weeks from the date of approval, if no child is placed during that period)

  • Make a claim for council tax support and housing benefit 

    To make a new claim for council tax support and/or housing benefit you need to complete a claim form online.

    Register your intent to claim
    To make sure that we award council tax support and/or housing benefit from as early a date as possible, you must register your intention to claim. To do this you should contact us and tell us that you will be making a claim for benefit. An application needs to be received within one month of this date. If you do not register your intention to make a claim you may lose benefit.

    Make a claim for benefit
    Once you have registered your intention to claim benefits you can submit a claim online. If you do not have access to a computer you can visit us at our Union Street office and we will help you with your claim.

    If you have not got all the information and documents needed to support your claim, complete your claim online and you can provide the information later (but this should be done within 1 month at the latest).

    2nd Adult Rebate
    If you live at the property with another person(who is not your partner) and that person has a low income then you may qualify for 2nd Adult rebate.

    Your income and capital will not be taken into account within the calculation, only the income of the 2nd Adults will be used. The rebate can be awarded on 3 levels, 7%, 15% and 25%.

    2nd Adult rebate can be considered if you have more than 1 adult living with you (as long as none of the adults are your partner).

  • Under-occupancy rules

    Housing benefit restrictions for housing association tenants (Under-occupancy rules)
    Housing benefit for working age customers who live in housing association properties will be reduced if you have more rooms than you and your family need.

    The reduction will not apply if:
    • You (or your partner if you have one) is a pensioner
    • You live in supported accommodation (where care, support or supervision is provided either by the landlord or by someone on their behalf
    • Your accommodation is temporary (for example, you have been housed by the council due to homelessness)
    • You live in accommodation such as a caravan
    • You have a shared ownership tenancy

    How we calculate the number of bedrooms you need

    You are under occupying your property if you have more bedrooms than your household needs. The number of bedrooms that working age customers will be able to claim for will be the same as customers who reside in privately rented homes. Please use the bedroom calculator to work out your room entitlement.

    There are already similar room sized restrictions on the levels of Housing Benefit awarded to tenants of other private landlords under the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rules. 

    You should only use the bedroom calculator to check how many rooms you may be entitled to for your family. The LHA rate shown will not apply to you as a housing association tenant. The amount of housing benefit you will be entitled to will be reduced in line with the under-occupancy rules. Please see the section reduction in benefit for under-occupancy.

    One bedroom is allowed for each of the following groups:
    • A couple a person who is not a child (aged 16 and over)
    • Two children of the same sex
    • Two children who are under 10
    • Any other child, (other than a foster child or child whose main home is elsewhere)

    Reduction in benefit for under-occupancy
    Customers with extra rooms will have reductions applied to their rent as follows:

    • One extra bedroom - 14% reduction
    • Two or more extra bedrooms - 25% reduction

    So, for example, a lone parent with 1 boy aged 3 and 1 girl aged 7 is entitled to 2 rooms (1 for an adult and 1 for the 2 children who must share). They live in a 3 bedroom house and their rent is £80 per week. A 14% reduction applies therefore the most we could pay in housing benefit is £68.80 per week.

    If you are under occupying your property the amount of rent we use to calculate your benefit will reduce. This means the amount of housing benefit you get will reduce and you will have to pay towards your rent.

    We will continue to pay housing benefit if you are on income support but it will not cover your full rent if you have spare bedrooms. You will have an amount of rent to pay yourself. You should contact your Housing Association to make arrangements to pay.

    Disabled customers
    You may be entitled to another room if you need regular overnight care and the care is provided by someone who does not live with you permanently.

    To be eligible for this you must:
    • Have care arranged and have a room available for a carer;
    And you must be in receipt of:
    • Disability Living Allowance (Care) at the middle or higher rate; or
    • Higher rate Attendance Allowance; or
    • The Daily Living component of Personal Independence Payment; or
    • The Armed Forces Independence Payment
    • If a qualifying benefit is not in payment then we would need medical evidence from a GP or other medical profession that supports the requirement for regular overnight care

    If you are disabled and your partner is your carer you will not qualify for another bedroom, when receiving care the care must be provided by someone who does not live with you.

    From April 2017 you may be entitled to another bedroom if you have a disability which means you are unable to share a bedroom with your partner.

    To be eligible for this you must be in receipt of:
    • Disability Living Allowance (Care) at the middle or higher rate; or
    • Higher rate Attendance Allowance; or
    • The Daily Living component of the Personal Independence Payment; or
    • The Armed Forces Independence Payment;

    We may need to ask for more information about your medical condition and how it affects you if you  think you may qualify.

    Disabled children

    You are allowed an additional bedroom if you have a child who is unable to share with a sibling due to a severe disability. 
     
    We would need to assess the need for another bedroom by considering:
    • The nature of the child's disability and how the disability may affect other children if they were to share a room, such as how often the other child's sleep may be disturbed. This should be supported by evidence from a healthcare professional.
    The child must be in receipt of:
    • Disability Living Allowance (Care) at the middle or higher rate.

    From April 2017 you may be entitled to another bedroom if you have a disabled child or disabled non-dependant who requires overnight care and the care is provided by someone who does not normally live with you.

    To be eligible for this you must:
    • Have care arranged and spare bedroom must be available for the carer; and
    • An extra bedroom has not already been granted for a carer to another household member.
    And the child or non-dependant must be in receipt of:
    • Disability Living Allowance (Care) at middle or high rate; or
    • The Daily Living component of Personal Independence Payments; or
    • Attendance Allowance; or
    • Armed Forces Independence payments; or
    • ​If a qualifying benefit is not in payment then we would need medical evidence from a GP or other medical profession that supports the requirement for regular overnight care.

    Joint tenants
    The rooms allowance is calculated using the number of people who live at the house. 
    For example: If a 3 bedroom property is occupied by 2 sisters who are joint tenants and no one else lives in the property, each sister’s bedroom requirement is 1 bedroom so they are under-occupying the whole property by 1 bedroom.

    A 14% eligible rent reduction would therefore apply to the total rent charge. If a child also lived in the house the property would not be under occupied as 3 bedrooms are needed.

     
    Please contact us if you are a joint tenant so we can check that we know about all the people who live with you.

    Armed Forces Personnel
    Non-dependants who normally reside in your home and are members of the armed forces are entitled to a bedroom whilst they are away from the home on operations.

    Foster carers
    Approved foster carers are entitled to one additional bedroom where one of the following conditions apply:
    Foster carers who have a child (or children) placed with them
    Foster carers who are between placements (for a period of up to 52 consecutive weeks from the date of their last placement)
    Newly approved foster carers (for a period of up to 52 consecutive weeks from the date of approval, if no child is placed during that period) 


    Bedroom information
    The information about the number of bedrooms in your property has been given to us by your landlord.  This means that even if you do not use the spare bedroom as a bedroom, if your landlord describes it as a bedroom then we will treat it as a bedroom.

    If you do not agree with the number of bedrooms we have used to calculate your housing benefit entitlement then you can appeal. Any appeal should be made in writing within one month of the decision.

    People who are not included in your household

    Children who stay at weekends - The law does not allow another room if children only stay at weekends and are not permanent residents. Children are usually included in the household of the person who receives Child Benefit for them.

    Non-dependants who have another address  - Non-dependants who are employed full-time in the army and live in barracks or who are at University staying in halls of residence, for which they pay rent and council tax are not treated as part of your household for housing benefit purposes as they do not live permanently with you, even if they return for the holidays. You will need to inform us if they intend to return home on a permanent basis.

    Additional help
    We will be working closely with our local housing associations to identify those customers who may be affected by the reductions and we will be contacting tenants directly with information and advice


    Help and advice is available from us for those who are worried about the changes and how they are going to pay the rent. Please contact us to discuss your options.

    We may be able to refer you to other agencies who may be able to assist you through the changes. For example, we can refer customers through our scheme to The Citizen’s Advice Bureau who will be able to help you with financial planning and budgeting.

    Please contact us if you are worried about the changes and need advice. 
  • Universal Credit

    About Universal Credit
    Universal Credit replaces six types of benefits and Tax Credits for customers who are on a low income or out of work. It includes payments to help cover your housing costs, for children and childcare, as well as support for disabled people and carer’s.

     It ensures that you will be better off in work and makes it easier for you to start a new job or work more hours. As your take home pay increases, Universal Credit will gradually reduce, this means that your benefits don't end immediately just because you have started work.

    Universal Credit will replace the following benefits: 
    • Income Support 
    • Income Related Jobseeker’s Allowance 
    • Income Related Employment Support Allowance 
    • Housing Benefit 
    • Working Tax Credit 
    • Child Tax Credit.

    When will Universal Credit begin?
    Universal Credit has been introduced in stages from April 2013 and will be completed by March 2022. Some Chorley residents have been able to apply for Universal Credit since November 2014.

    Who is eligible to apply?
    From 2 March 2015, singles, couples and also families across the Chorley area can now make a new claim for Universal Credit if they meet all of the criteria which have been set by Department for Works & Pensions (DWP).

    Can I apply?
    To apply for Universal Credit you need to look at the lists below and decide: 

    If ALL the statements apply to you and your partner, then you can apply for Universal Credit . 
    If only SOME of the statements below apply, you and your partner will need to claim Housing Benefits and Council Tax reduction and may qualify for other benefits such as Jobseekers Allowance. 
    If you are a family please see the addition criteria for families below.

    Personal circumstances
    Single or a couple criteria
    • Have lived in the UK for at least 2 years 
    • Have a valid National Insurance Number 
    • Be between 18 years old and 1 year from State Pension Credit age 
    • Have a bank, building society account or Post Office Card Account 
    • Not be homeless or in supported accommodation 
    • Not own their own home (including part ownership) 
    • Not have more than £6000 in savings and capital 
    • Not be pregnant, or given birth within the last 15 weeks 
    • Not be required by the Child Maintenance Enforcement Commission (CMEC) to pay child maintenance 
    • Not have a fit note (unless Work Capability Assessment [WCA] confirmed found fit for work) 
    • Not be in a period of self-certification awaiting a fit note 
    • Not be making the claim through a Personal Acting Body (PAB)/Corporate Acting Body (CAB)

    Families* must meet all of the above criteria but will have dependent children living with them for some or all of the time.

    You cannot make a new claim for Universal Credit if one or more children in the household:
    • Has been adopted in the last 12 months
    • Is receiving Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment
    • Is certified blind or severely sight impaired
    • Is fostered
    • Is looked after by the council (apart from short periods solely to provide respite care).
    • From 6 April 2017 you will not be able to claim Universal Credit if you have more than 2 children in your household

    *A family is defined as single/couple claimants who are responsible for one or more children/qualifying young persons (a qualifying person is someone aged 16-19 and in full time non-advanced education or training).

    Current benefit status
    • Not be entitled to Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Carers Allowance (CA) 
    • Not be awaiting a decision on a claim, nor appealing against a decision of non-entitlement, to Job Seekers Allowance (JSA), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Income Support (IS), Housing Benefit (HB), Child Tax Credits (CTC) or Working Tax Credits (WTC) 
    • Not be awaiting a decision on an application to revise an award of JSA, ESA, IS or HB.

    Employment or education status 
    • Not be self employed, be a Company Director or in a limited liability partnership 
    • Not be in any form of education or training 
    • Not expect to commence education or training in the next month 
    • Be out of work or in work but does not expect to have employment earnings next month exceeding over £338 (Individual earnings) or £541 (Joint earnings)

    If you do not meet the criteria and need to claim an existing benefit, such as Jobseekers Allowance, Income Support or Housing Benefit. You can apply for most of these benefits on line but if you need more information please see Gov.uk Benefit Information in our ‘Useful Links’ section.

    What are the main changes?
    • You will need to make an application for Universal Credit on line 
    • Universal Credit is paid monthly, directly to one person in your household 
    • Any help you get with your rent is included in your Universal Credit payment and you will then pay the landlord yourself.

    Support and information
    If you do not have access to a computer, the Council Offices at Union Street have computers available for you to use and can assist you with making a claim if needed.

    If you don't have a bank account already, you might want to consider opening a basic bank account or an account with a credit union. Chorley has a Credit Union based on Market Street in the town Centre. A link to their website is available in the Useful Links section.

    If you think you may struggle to manage your money on Universal Credit, you can contact us to arrange a free money advice session with our support officer.

    More information about Universal Credit and the on line application is available under Universal Credit in our Useful Links section.

  • View housing benefit details online using our e-Citizen service

    If you are already a benefit customer, you can access information about your benefit entitlements and payments by logging into e-Citizen.

    If you are a landlord and receive housing benefit payments for your tenant you can view you payment details through e-Citizen.

  • Welfare reform

    The government have planned many changes to the welfare benefits system over the coming months. Some of our customers may be affected by the changes and will find that the amount of financial help you can get with your rent and council tax may reduce.

    The Benefit Cap 

    From 15th July 2013 the Benefit cap will apply to some families living in the Chorley area.
    From 7th November 2016 the Benefit cap will be reduced which means more families may be affected and those who are already capped may see their benefit reduce further.
     

    Benefits for working age customers, who are not working will be capped as follows:

    ·         Lone Parent families, couples with or without children will only be entitled to get benefits to a maximum of £384.62 per week;
    ·         Single people, who are not working, will get benefits to a maximum of £257.69 per week.
     
    Benefits included in the calculation of the weekly benefit maximum include:
     
    ·         Bereavement Allowance
    ·         Carer’s Allowance
    ·         Child Benefit
    ·         Child Tax Credit
    ·         Employment & Support Allowance (except awards that include the Support component)
    ·         Guardian’s Allowance
    ·         Housing Benefit
    ·         Incapacity Benefit
    ·         Income Support
    ·         Jobseekers Allowance
    ·         Maternity Allowance
    ·         Severe Disablement Allowance
    ·         Widowed Parent’s Allowance
    ·      Universal Credit
     
    If the total amount you receive in these benefits is more than the maximum amounts, your housing benefit will be reduced, or 'capped', to meet these new rules.
     
    The cap will not apply if you or a member of your household* qualify for working tax credit or get any of the following benefits:
     
    ·         Disability living allowance
    ·         Personal independence payment (from April 2013)
    ·         Attendance allowance
    ·         Industrial injuries benefit
    ·         Employment & support allowance (if paid with the support component)
    ·         War widow's / war widower's pension
     
    *For benefit cap purposes a household is:
     
    ·         A single adult
    ·         A couple; and
    ·         Any children/youths who that single adult or couple are responsible for when working out Housing Benefit  Entitlement
     
    There will be protection for a period nine months for those customers who:
     
    ·         Have been in a job for more than 12 months and lose that job through no fault of their own (e.g. redundancy) ; or
    ·         Have their hours reduced to a level where they no longer get Working Tax Credit.
     
    If you will be affected by the benefit cap you should have already received letters from the DWP about it.  You should have also received a further letter from us detailing help available to you.

    There is a designated DWP phone line for general information about benefit capping:
    Benefit capping helpline: 0845 605 7064

    Further information is available on the Gov.uk website.


    Personal Independence Payments  (PIP)
    PIP will replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for working age customers making new claims from 08th April 2013 (for customers based in Cheshire, Cumbria, Merseyside, North East England and the North west) and extending to the rest of the country from June 2013. 
     
    From October 2013 reassessment to PIP begins for fixed term awards reaching renewal, young people turning 16 or when DLA claimants report a change in their circumstances.
     
    From October 2015 existing DLA customers will begin reassessment for PIP. The DWP will contact customer’s to tell them what they need to do. 
     
    DLA will remain for customers aged under 16 and those aged 65 or over on 8th April 2013 (the day PIP is introduced).
     
    PIP is designed to help people pay towards some of the extra costs which can arise from having a health condition or disability and is based on how a person’s condition affects them, not the condition they have.

    PIP can be paid whether the customer is in or out of work, it is not means tested.
     
    There are 2 components to PIP, Daily Living and Mobility needs and each component could be paid at either standard or enhanced rate.
     
    PIP will include an assessment of a person’s needs by a health professional which in most cases will include a face to face consultation.

    For more information, visit the DWP website.

    Armed Forces Independence Payments (AFIP)

    As of the 8th April 2013 The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has introduced a new benefit called the Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP).

    Entitlement will be decided by The Service Personnel and Veterans Agency (SPVA) and the DWP will administer the payment.

    The payment is designed to help service personnel and veterans who may incur additional costs as a result of serious injury.

    Service personnel and veterans who are entitled to a Guaranteed Income Payment (GIP) of 50% or higher through the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) will be eligible for the payments.

    Personnel who receive AFIP will not be eligible for PIP, DLA or AA at the same time but can receive one of these benefits whilst waiting for a decision to be made.

    The AFIP are flat rate payments of £134.40 per week and are disregarded as income in the calculation of Housing Benefit and Council Tax support.

    More information is available on the Veterans-UK website. 

    Bereavement Support Payment
    From 6 April 2017 the Department for Works & Pensions has introduced a new payment to replace Bereavement Allowance, Widow's Pension, Widowed Mother's Allowance, Widowed Parent's Allowance and Bereavement Allowance.

    This is for working age customers who's spouse or Civil Partner has passed away on or after 6 April 2017.

    There are two rates, the higher rate which is payable to pregnant women and those with dependant children consists of a lump sum payment of £3500 and monthly payments of £350. The standard rate which is payable to those without dependant children consists of a lump sum payment of £2500 and monthly payments of £100.

    Employment & Support Allowance Work Related activity component
    This is being stopped for all new claimants from 3 April 2017. The support component is unaffected.

    Removal of the Family Premium in Housing Benefit and Council tax support for Pensioners

    From 1 May 2016 there will be no Family Premium included in the Applicable Amount when calculating new awards of Housing Benefit for both working age and pensioner claims and in Council Tax support for pensioners.

    If you are in receipt of Housing Benefit or Council Tax support on 30 April 2016 you will retain your entitlement to the Family premium as long as your claim continues in payment and you remain responsible for a child.

    2 child restriction
    From 6 April 2017 the number of child allowances within your applicable amount for Housing Benefit is restricted to a maximum of 2 children. This applies to new entitlements awarded after 6 April 2017 OR if a new baby, child or young person joins your household on or after this date AND the child is not included in your Child Tax Credit assessment.

    There are exceptions to this, such as multiple births, however, Child Tax Credit will decide whether you will be entitles to an additional allowance.

    Other changes
    From 1st April, 2013 Crisis Loans and Community Care Grants within the DWP Discretionary Social Fund will be abolished.

    From that date, within Lancashire, a new local scheme will be established, administered by Lancashire County Council, called The Care and Urgent Needs Support Scheme.

    The new local scheme is there to support vulnerable people in urgent need who have no access to other means of support. This might be to allow them to live in the community or to deal with a particular crisis.

    For more information go to our Housing page.