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If you are unemployed or work but are on a low income, you may be entitled to housing benefit and/or council tax support.
If you pay rent for your home, whether to the city council, a housing association or to a private landlord, you may be entitled to help with your rent payments through the housing benefit scheme. If you are a tenant of a private landlord, any benefit you are entitled to will be paid to you. If you are a council tenant any benefit is credited directly to your rent account to reduce the amount of rent you need to pay.
Council tax support helps you to pay your council tax if you are on a low income. The application process is very similar to housing benefit (you apply on the same form). If you meet the requirements, the amount of council tax support you are entitled to is deducted from your council tax bill. Further information can be found at here.
Will I qualify for help? Use our online calculator
If you're not sure whether you qualify for housing benefit or council tax support our online calculator will help you. Answer a few simple questions and it will tell you whether you're entitled to benefit and roughly how much you might get. Please click here to view the benefits calculator.
How do I claim?
You can only apply on an application form. You can get a form in the following ways:
- Download a form: To download the form and application notes, please see 'related files' below.
- Request a form by email: send your request to email@example.com
- Visit one of our benefit surgeries - follow this link to find out when / where
Can I get help to fill in my form?
If you have any questions or need help with filling out your form, contact our customer services team on 01782 234234 or call in at one of our offices. Or you could email any questions to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
It is important that you return the form quickly because we normally only pay you from the Monday after your claim is received. Don't hold onto your form just because you don't have all the supporting evidence - you can send this separately at a later date if necessary.
What do I have to provide with my form?
The form will tell you where you need to provide documents in support of your claim. Where documents are needed these must be the originals – we can't accept photocopies. Please don't post valuable documents to us – if you take them to any of our offices we will copy them and return the originals to you straight away. If you are making a new claim for housing and/or council tax support, you will have to provide proof of your identity and that of your partner (if you have a partner). We will need proof of the following items:
- Your income - This is the amount of money you have coming in each week. Certain types of income are totally or partially ignored when working out your income for benefit purposes.
- Your savings - This is the total of your own and any partner's savings and investments. If the total is more than £16,000 you will not be entitled to benefit unless you or your partner receive the Guarantee element of Pension Credits. If the total of your savings is less than £6,000 (£10,000 if you are of pension age), it will not be taken into account when assessing your benefit entitlement. Where savings are between £6,000 (£10,000 if you are of pension age) and £16,000 a level of income is determined based on the actual amount of savings you have. Please note - from 1 April 2013, for council tax support only, if you have savings of more than £10,000 and are not a pensioner, you are not eligible to claim.
- Your household - benefit entitlement can also be reduced by members of your household, such as adult children. This is based on the assumption that people living with you, who are not dependent on you, will be making a contribution to your household expenses.
When will my benefit/support start and end?
Benefit will normally start from the Monday after we receive your claim form. Once you start to receive benefit you must tell us about any change in your circumstances. Your benefit will end if you:
- Move to an address outside the Stoke-on-Trent area
- Do not reply to our enquiries (we will always tell you how long you have to reply)
Can I get my claim backdated?
Normally we start your claim from the Monday after we receive your application form. You can ask for a backdate of benefits if there is a reason why you were unable to apply for your benefit earlier.In order for a backdate of benefit to be allowed you will have to show 'good cause' why you did not apply earlier. There is no formal definition of 'good cause', each case will be decided according to its own individual situation. Some examples of when you may have 'good cause' are:
- If you did not immediately claim benefit after leaving hospital
- If you were ill and had no-one to make a claim on your behalf.
- If you did not understand that you could claim benefit perhaps because of age, inexperience or language difficulties.
- If you have suffered a recent family bereavement.
- The maximum period that a benefit claim can be backdated is either 3 months or 6 months, dependent on whether the benefit claimant is of pension age, from the date we receive the backdate request.
Can I get any extra help?
If your housing benefit doesn't cover all of your rent, you may be entitled to a discretionary housing payment. Discretionary housing payments are paid from a limited fund, and nobody is guaranteed to be entitled - each claimant's circumstances are taken into account when deciding if they are eligible or not. Further information can be found at the Discretionary Housing Payments page (follow the link).