Benefit advice

We have provided advice and guidance information to help you with applications for Housing Benefits, Council Tax reduction, Disability Benefits, Discretionary Housing Payments, Universal Credit and the Exceptional Hardship Fund.

In this section, you can also report a change in your circumstance to our team and use the benefit calculator to find out what benefits you could get.

An overpayment can happen if we pay you benefit that you are not entitled to. For example, if you didn't tell us that your income had increased, and a recalculation of your benefits meant that you had been paid too much benefit.

We recover overpayments from either the person who caused the overpayment or the person who received the overpayment.

If we give you too much benefit, we will send you a letter. The letter we send you will tell you:

  • why we gave you too much benefit
  • how much the overpayment is
  • if you have to pay back the amount
  • how you can appeal if you think this is wrong

If the overpayment relates to council tax support, we will send you a revised council tax bill, and you will usually have to pay more council tax.

See further appeals information on Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support appeals.

Please Note: We may also decide to take criminal proceedings in respect of fraudulent overpayments.

Discretionary housing payments is a grant assistance scheme to help people who receive Housing Benefit payments cover the shortfall in their rent, on a short term basis.

To apply for discretionary housing payment, you must:

Discretionary housing payments are not payments of housing benefit and there is only a certain amount of money available each year so it's important that you make your claim as soon as possible.

You can apply for discretionary housing payment by downloading and completing the discretionary housing payment form. Or you can get a form at any of our contact centres in Droitwich, Evesham and Pershore or contact us and we will send one out to you.

We aim to deal with your claim within 28 days.

If some of your benefit entitlements come to an end because you have taken up employment, increased your hours of work or your earnings, you may be able to continue receiving Housing Benefit for an additional four week period.

To be eligible for extended Housing Benefit payments you or your partner must:

  • be starting work or increasing your hours, and
  • expect your new work or increased hours to last for 5 weeks or more, and
  • have had an entitlement to Jobseeker's Allowance (income-based or contribution-based), Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance, Incapacity Benefit or Severe Disability Allowance for a continuous period of 26 weeks or more.

Extended Housing Benefit payments are automatically calculated and issued to you if you are eligible. If you think you are not receiving the entitlements and should be, please contact us.

What will happen next?

We will look at your claim and assess whether you are entitled to extended payments. If you are we will award 4 weeks Housing Benefit at the same rate you were entitled to before you started work. At the end of the extended payment period, we will work out your claim based on your new circumstances.

You may be entitled to Housing Benefit after your extended payment ends, or if you don't qualify for an extended payment, you may still be entitled to Housing Benefit once you have started work.

You can check your likely entitlement by using the online benefits calculator.

If we do not have evidence of your new income and full details of your capital, your claim will be suspended following the end of the extended payment period and we will request proof of all your income and full details of your capital. You may be asked to complete a change of income form.

If you do not qualify for an extended payment and you still want to claim Housing Benefit, your claim will be suspended following the change in your circumstances and we will request proof of your income and capital to work out your claim based on your new circumstances.

You must notify us straight away of any other changes in your circumstances that could affect your Housing Benefit.

If there has been a reason which stopped or delayed you applying for Housing Benefit you can ask for your claim to be 'backdated' so that it starts from an earlier date. You can only ask for a backdate of benefits if there is a good reason why you were unable to apply for your benefit earlier. A claim can only be backdated for a maximum of 1 month for working age claimants from the date of your claim.

In order for a claim to be backdated we must be satisfied that:

You will need to show continuous good cause for not claiming earlier and we must be satisfied that your circumstances during this time were such that any reasonable person of your age and experience would also have failed to claim benefit.

You have to prove "good cause" but we must take account of all the facts of your case. 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

Pension Age claimants

If you have reached the qualifying age for State Pension Credit we can backdate your benefit automatically to a maximum of 3 months from the date of your claim. You do not need to show good cause but you must provide proof of your income for the period of backdating.

How to make a claim for backdating

Under Housing Benefit law your application for benefit must be made in writing to Revenues and Benefits, PO Box 11, Pershore, WR10 1PU or benefits@southworcestershirerevenues.gov.uk.

Normally we will start your claim from the Monday after we receive your letter. It is therefore very important that you get your letter to us as soon as possible because it affects the date your benefit claim will start from.

How your claim is dealt with

Your claim will be considered by a Benefits Officer. The more information and evidence you give in support of your claim the quicker a decision can be made. Sometimes it may be necessary to write to you for more information or to ask you to come in for an informal interview.

Your claim will be looked at within 1 month and you will be sent a letter telling you of our decision. If we have decided that you have not shown "good cause" and that we cannot backdate your claim, the reasons for this will be explained in our letter. You will then have the right of appeal against our decision not to backdate your claim.

You would need a bank account to receive benefit payments, it would also help you to arrange standing order payments to your landlord. To open an account you can seek advice from any of our contact centres Droitwich, Evesham, Pershore.

If you are of working age, financial support will be provided to you by Universal Credit, visit www.gov.uk/universalcredit for more information. 

People in receipt of Universal Credit may be entitled to Council Tax Support and help with housing costs, this needs to be claimed directly from our Self Service.

If you are over working age, for further information on help you can receive see Pension Credit page.

A non-dependant is someone who is over 18 and lives with you on a non-commercial basis. This means that you are not charging them rent in order to make money, although they may contribute some money towards household bills. An example of a non-dependant could be an adult son or daughter or another relative or even a friend that lives with you.

Non-dependant deductions

If a non-dependant lives with you, your Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support is reduced by a fixed amount. What that amount is, depends on the circumstances of the non-dependant. This is because the non-dependant is expected to help with the cost of your household expenses (even if they don't).These fixed amounts are set by the government and they apply whether you are of working age or of State Pension age.

For current Housing Benefit non-dependant deductions visit the Shelter website

Deductions for non-dependant couples

If the non-dependants living with you are a couple (living together as a couple, married or in a civil partnership) then their incomes are combined and one deduction is made based on that.

Deductions for a joint tenancy or joint owners

If you have a joint tenancy and the non-dependant lives in the house with both of you, then any deduction will be half of a normal non-dependent amount.

When deductions are not made

In some instances, non-dependant deductions are not made but this will depend on the circumstances of you and your partner and any of your non-dependants.

Deductions are not made if you or your partner: 

Deductions are not made if your non-dependant is: 

  • under 25 and receiving Income Support, Jobseeker's Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance in the assessment phase
  • under 25 receiving Universal Credits and is not working  
  • receiving a youth training allowance 
  • temporarily living elsewhere such as your son or daughter is away at university
  • in prison
  • a student  
  • receiving Pension Credit
  • receiving hospital inpatient treatment for more than 52 weeks
  • serving in the Armed or Reserves Forces and is away but intends to return home

Contact us

Email: benefits@southworcestershirerevenues.gov.uk

If you wish to speak to someone regarding your benefit application please call 03004 560 560 .

Please note: calls may be recorded for training and monitoring purposes

 

If you have a question regarding an invoice you have received for overpaid Housing Benefit you should call 03004 560 560

Please note: calls may be recorded for training and monitoring purposes

 

If you have any further comments, suggestions or complaints please:
please write to us at South Worcestershire Revenues and Benefits Shared Services, PO Box 11, PERSHORE, WR10 1PU, or you can e-mail us at benefits@southworcestershirerevenues.gov.uk.

You should note that Council Tax enquiries should be directed to the Council Tax department and not the Benefits department. See the contact details page.