If you are unemployed or work but are on a low income, you may be entitled to Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Support.
The Welfare Reform Act 2012 will change most benefits that you can claim. Click here to find out more.
Your Online Account
You can now access your Housing Benefit/ Council Tax Support claim details online. Please see this link for further information
Contacting Benefit Services
By phone: Call 01782 232982 (Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm and on Saturday between 8am and 1pm)
Fax: 01782 232312
In Writing: Benefit Services, PO Box 186, Swann House, Boothen Road, Stoke-on-Trent ST4 4RY
Council Tax Support
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 are entitled then the amount of Council Tax Support you are entitled to is deducted from your Council Tax bill. Further information can be found at this link.
You can find the results of the Council Tax Support Scheme consultation that ended on 24 December 2013 at this link.
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. But in certain circumstances benefit can be paid directly to your landlord. 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.
How do I know if I can get Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support?
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 Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Support?
You can only apply on an application form. You can get a form in the following ways:
Request a form by telephone: call (01782) 232982 and a form will be sent to you by post;
Request a form by email: send your request to firstname.lastname@example.org and a form will be sent to you in the post; or
Collect a form from one of our offices: Stoke Local Service Centre, South Wolfe Street, Stoke-on-Trent, ST4 4SZ
All local centres
Visit one of our Benefit Surgeries- follow this link to find out when/ where
Registered Social Landlords who work with us:
Download a form: To download the form and application notes, please see Related Files below.
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) 232982 or call in at one of our offices. Or you could email any questions to us at email@example.com
You can visit one of our benefit surgeries-follow this link to find out when/ where
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.
Your completed form can be returned in the following ways:
PO Box 186
Stoke on Trent
To any local centre or other recognised office. Click here for our list of local centres.
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.
What should I do if I don't have all of the documents asked for on the application form?
If you don't have everything that the form asks you to send in don't wait until you have got it - send us the form straight away.
How much benefit will I get?
The amount of benefit you get will depend on your income, size of your household, the amount of your rent and Council Tax and other personal circumstances.
Housing Benefit does not cover all charges that may be included in your rent. Gas, electricity and water rate charges are usually excluded. From 1 April 2013, if you rent from the Council or a housing association, your housing benefit will be limited if you are considered to have more bedrooms than you require.
If you rent from a private landlord your claim will be based on the relevant Local Housing Allowance (more information here).
If you rent from a housing association or the Council your housing benefit will take into account the Removal of the Spare Room Subsidy (sometimes called the "Bedroom Tax"). More information about the Size Criteria can be found here.
If you have lodgers, grown up children or relatives living with you they are expected to pay towards the rent and your benefit may be reduced. This will depend on the amount and type of their income.
For most people who are of working age, Council Tax Support will only cover 70% of your Council Tax.
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)
What happens if my circumstances change?
If your circumstances change we need to know as soon as possible. These changes could include:
changes to your income (wages, maintenance, benefits, works pension, tax credits or any other income at all);
changes in the amount of savings you have, including the number of stocks and shares you own;
changes to your household when people join or leave;
changes to the income of other people in your household;
changes to your rent (private or housing association tenants only); or
if you move, have to live away from home, become a student, go into hospital, or get a new landlord.
You should tell us in writing straight away.
How do 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, dependant on whether the benefit claimant is of pension age, from the date we receive the backdate request.
What happens if I have to go away from my home?
If you are temporarily away from home for any reason and intend to return, you can still get Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support for up to 13 weeks. For certain reasons you can be away for up to 52 weeks and still get Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support. These reasons include:
being in hospital;
looking after a sick person;
looking after a child while their parent or guardian is in hospital;
trying out residential care to see if it would suit you; and
being remanded on bail, but not yet tried and found guilty.
If you are going to be away, we would prefer you to tell us about this in advance.
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 payment is 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).
What if I think that my Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support is incorrect?
In the first instance, you can contact us if you think that your think your Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support is incorrect for an explanation. If you still are not satisfied, you have the right to appeal- your appeal rights are described at this link.