Housing Benefit & Council Tax Reduction Benefits Ref:

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1 Housing Benefit & Council Tax Reduction Benefits Ref: Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reductions are normally granted from the Monday following the day you apply so do not delay in making an application. You can get an application form from the Benefits Section or by visiting the website at These notes give an outline of the Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction schemes and attempts to answer some of the questions you may have. If you have over 16,000 in capital you will not qualify for either Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction, unless you receive the Guarantee Element of Pension Credit. Some capital is disregarded (e.g. certain compensation payments). Please ask for more information if you think this may apply to you. Housing Benefit? Housing Benefit is available to: Council Tenants Lodgers/Boarders Hostel Dwellers Private Tenants Housing Association Tenants Mobile Homes Ground Rent/Pitch fees Housing Benefit is paid by Local Authorities to tenants who are on a low income to help them pay their rent. How is it paid? Council Tenants have their Housing Benefit paid directly to their rent account. Tenants of Registered Social Landlords can choose whether to have their Housing Benefit paid direct to their Landlord or to their bank account Private Tenants have their Housing Benefit paid by BAC s to their bank account. In certain circumstances Private Tenants may have their rent paid directly to their landlord. Please contact the Benefits Section for more information about this.

2 Council Tax Reduction? Council Tax Reduction is available to Council Tax payers who are resident in the property. Council Tax Reduction is a local scheme which is paid and administered by Local Authorities to Council Tax payers on a low income to help them pay their Council Tax. Each Local Authority will determine who can receive Council Tax Reduction and the amount they can receive so different levels of support will be available in different areas. There is also an alternative Council Tax Reduction, known as Second Adult Rebate, which may be claimed by Single Council Tax payers who do not qualify in their own right to Council Tax Reduction but who have other adults on a low income living with them. Please contact the Benefits Section for more detail about this. How is it paid? Your Council Tax account will be reduced by the amount of Council Tax Reduction you are awarded. How will my Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction be calculated? If you receive the following benefits from the Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) you will generally receive 100% help with your eligible rent and 100% help with your Council Tax. Income Support Job Seekers Allowance (Income Based) Employment Support Allowance (Income Related) Guarantee Element of Pension Credit If you do not receive any of these benefits your Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction will be calculated by comparing your total weekly income to your applicable amount/living allowance. If your income is: Equal to or less than your applicable amount/living allowance you will receive 100% help with your rent and/or council tax. more than your applicable amount/living allowance your benefit will be reduced by: o 65% of the excess income above your applicable amount/living allowance for Housing Benefit o 20% of the excess income above your applicable amount/living allowance for Council Tax Reduction What income is taken into account? All of your household s income will be included in the calculation unless it is an income we disregard. Examples of income that will be included in the calculation are. Earnings from employed and self-employed work o This will be net of Income Tax, National Insurance and 50% of any private pension contribution o Depending on your circumstances some of your net earnings will be disregarded o If you pay child care costs some of these may be deducted from your net earnings.

3 Income from all other sources (e.g. other DWP benefits, Tax Credits, Statutory Sick or Statutory Maternity pay from your employer and Private or Works Pensions Actual income from capital is disregarded but an assumed income from capital is used: o If you have capital of 16,000 or more you will not qualify for Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction (unless you are in receipt of the guarantee element of Pension Credit) o If you are working age, the first 6,000 you have is disregarded and then for every 250 you have above 6,000 an income of 1 per week is taken into account o If you are State Pension Credit age the first 10,000 you have is disregarded and then for every 500 you have above 10,000 an income of 1 per week is taken into account. Incomes that are disregarded Attendance Allowance Disability Living Allowance/Personal Independence Payment Child Maintenance paid in respect of a child Child Benefit War Widows Pension War Disability Pension The first 20 of any income from boarders and 50% of the remainder What is an Applicable Amount/Living Allowance? An applicable amount/living allowance is the figure that is used in the calculation of your Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction to reflect the basic living needs of you and your family. The applicable amount/living allowance is calculated by giving you a personal allowance based on your age and adding on to this various premiums based on you and your family s circumstances.

4 The weekly Personal Allowances and Premiums are detailed in these tables. Personal Allowances Working Age ( ) State Pension Credit Age Single Person Single Person Under Under and over and over Lone Parent Lone Parent Under Under and over and over Couple Couple 1 or both Both under Under 65 One or both and over and over For each dependent child aged under ( ) Premiums Family Disabled Child Carer Disabled Single Couple Enhanced Disability Single Couple Disabled Child Severe Disability Single Couple - both

5 What are Non-Dependant Deductions? If you have other adults living with you (e.g. adult children, parents etc.) your Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction may be reduced. This is to reflect the assumed contribution they make to household expenses. The weekly deductions that will apply are detailed in this table. Non-Dependant HB ( ) CTR ( ) Aged 18 and over, in remunerative work and gross weekly earnings are: less than 129 between 129 and 189 between 189 and 246 between 246 and 328 between 328 and 408 Over Aged Under 25 and in receipt of a passport benefit* Aged Over 25 and in receipt of a passport benefit* In receipt of Pension Credit In receipt of main phase Employment Support Allowance (income related) The minimum deductions apply to those over 18 and not in work or on a passported benefit. *A passport benefit is Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance (Income Based) or Employment Support Allowance (Income Related) which does not include an amount for the support component or work related activity component. There will be no non-dependant deduction if you or your partner are in receipt of: Attendance Allowance The care component of Disability Living Allowance/ daily living component of Personal Independence Payment Registered blind How much of my rent is eligible for Housing Benefit? Certain items included within your rent will not be eligible for Housing Benefit. These include: Heating and Lighting Water Meals

6 Size Criteria If the number of bedrooms in your property exceeds the number of bedrooms you and your family need, your Housing Benefit will be reduced. The number of bedrooms you need is based on your household. One bedroom is allowed for: Every adult couple Any other adult aged 16 or over Any two children of the same sex And two children regardless of sex under 10 Any other child An extra bedroom may be allowed for a person who provides overnight care but has their own home elsewhere How does the Size Criteria affect me if I pay my rent to a private landlord? Your Housing Benefit will be based on the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) for your area. These amounts are set by the Valuation Office Agency in April each year. LHA rates are broken down into room rates that will apply depending on the size of your household. If you are single and aged under 35 a lower room rate may apply which will be based on the LHA rate in your area for one bedroom in shared accommodation. How does the Size Criteria affect me if I pay my rent to a Housing Association, a Registered Provider or the Council? If you are Working Age, the eligible rent used to calculate your Housing Benefit will be reduced by: 14% if you have 1 spare bedroom 25% if you have 2 or more spare bedrooms The size criteria will not affect you if any of the following exemptions apply to you: you or your partner are State Pension Credit Age and not in receipt of a DWP out of work benefit you pay mooring charges for a house boat or site charges for a mobile home you have been placed in temporary accommodation by the local authority you are living in supported exempt accommodation Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) DHPs are not payments of benefit. They are free standing payments to provide short term financial assistance where the Benefits Section considers that additional help with housing costs is needed. DHPs are subject to an annual cash limit. Anyone who is currently receiving Housing Benefit and requires further financial assistance with housing costs can make a claim for a DHP.

7 What will they cover? Among other things DHPs may cover: Restrictions in Housing Benefit due to the size criteria Restrictions in Housing Benefit due to reductions in Local Housing Allowance Rent deposits, rent in advance or removal costs if you need to move to a smaller or cheaper property The payments are made at the discretion of the Benefits Section and each case is considered on its own merits. Please contact the Benefits Section if you would like to find out more about DHP s or to obtain a claim form. Welfare Reform from April 2013 The Housing Benefit system for people of Working Age changed from April These changes mean some people will receive less Housing Benefit. The following changes were introduced. Size Criteria From April 2013 if you rent from a local authority, registered housing association or other registered social landlord your Housing Benefit may be reduced if you have one or more spare bedrooms in your home. Benefit Cap Since 2013 if you are out of work, the maximum amount of benefit that you will be able to receive will be: 500 a week for lone parents and couples with and without children 350 a week for single people without children Universal Credit: From October 2013 a single working age benefit will replace the current benefits for employment, housing and childcare into one monthly payment of Universal Credit. The switch to Universal Credit will be carried out gradually from October You MUST tell the Benefits Section at Winchester City Council about any changes in circumstances. For example: o The number of people in your household changes o The income or savings of anyone in your household changes o Your rent changes o You or your partner are going to be away from home for more than 13 weeks o You change address o Anything you have told us about changes This is not a full list. If you are not sure you should contact the Benefits Section.

8 If you do not tell the Benefits Section about any changes you may lose money you are entitled to or you may get too much. Do not rely on someone else to pass the message on. It is an offence not to tell the Benefits Section of any changes that may affect your entitlement. They may take court action against you. If you get too much benefit you will have to pay it back. Benefits Section City Offices Colebrook Street Winchester, Hants SO23 9LJ Telephone: (telephone calls may be recorded) Website: Opening times: (4.30 on Fridays) If you have any particular needs which affect how you are able to use or be involved in our services or how you would like to receive information for example translation, interpreters, Braille, audio tape, large print, sign language please contact the Customer Service Centre either by Telephone Or by Whilst every care has been taken in the preparation of these notes they do not cover the full Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction schemes and should not be interpreted as such.

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