This page is targeted at housing professionals. Our main site is at www.shelter.org.uk

How quickly payment should be made, and entitlement to interim payment

This content applies to England

How quickly payment should be made after an initial claim.

Once provided with the necessary information and evidence, the local authority must start paying housing benefit within 14 days or as soon as reasonably practicable after that.[1]

Except for council tenants, if the local authority is unable to assess the claim within this time, it should make a payment on account (sometimes also called an 'interim payment' or 'estimated payment') until a decision on the exact entitlement can be made.[2] This applies even if the claimant is unable to provide all the necessary information and evidence (for example, if s/he has been unable to get evidence of the rent or tenancy because of the landlord's non-co-operation), so long as it is not the claimant who has obstructed the assessment of the claim.

The amount paid must be what the local authority considers reasonable on the basis of the information available. After a payment on account is made, the local authority must continue to assess the claim in the normal way and come to a decision about the actual entitlement. If the entitlement is more than the payments on account, the difference will be made up. If entitlement is found to be less, housing benefit will be reduced for a period of time to recoup this.[3]

[1] reg 91(3) Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213; reg 72(3) Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for pension credit) Regulations 2006,SI 2006/214.

[2] reg 93 Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213; reg 74 Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for pension credit) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/214.

[3] reg 93(3) Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213; reg 74(3) Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for pension credit) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/214.

Back to top