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Making a claim

This content applies to England

How a claimant should make a claim for housing benefit.

Claims to local authority

Claims for housing benefit are made to the claimant's local authority. Forms can be obtained from the local authority's housing benefit department or downloaded from its website. In addition to accepting a claim in writing, authorities can normally also choose to accept a claim for housing benefit that is made wholly by telephone or internet, and can choose to accept notifications of changes of circumstance wholly by telephone or internet.

See the page Changes in circumstances for more information on reporting changes. The authorities still require documentary evidence and information.[1]

Amending a claim

A claimant can amend or withdraw a claim before it has been finally determined by giving notice in writing or by phone, or in any other way that the authority is willing to accept, regardless of the way in which the claim was originally made.[2]

Claiming as a couple

People living together as a couple (whether married, in a civil partnership or cohabitating) can choose who will be the claimant. They cannot both be the claimant, even though a local authority may ask them both to sign the claim form. In the event they cannot agree who will be the claimant, the local authority can choose.[3]

Claiming with other benefits

A claimant can make a written claim for housing benefit to Jobcentre plus at the same time as s/he claims pension credit, income support, jobseeker's allowance, incapacity benefit or employment and support allowance (ESA).[4] The claim can be made by telephone (0800 055 6688) to Jobcentre plus if ESA or pension credit is being claimed (this facility will also be available to claimants of income support and jobseeker's allowance in due course).

The claim, its details and the relevant documents, should automatically be sent by the Jobcentre plus office to the local authority for processing.[5]

The Court of Appeal held that a claim for housing benefit can count as a claim if expressed as a claim 'for the benefits to which I am entitled', whether or not it explicitly mentions housing benefit. Such a claim may be defective and require further information to render it a valid claim, but as a date of claim, it would be valid.[6]

Information and evidence

The form requests details about the claimant's address, income, capital, rent payable, other people living in the property and members of the claimant's own household. The claimant is required to send in proof of rent paid, any tenancy agreement, proof of income and capital (such as wage slips and bank statements) and any other relevant information requested by the local authority.[7]

The local authority may decide to investigate a housing benefit claim where it suspects that a benefit offence may be, or has been, committed. The authority has wide powers to require information from sources including landlords, employers, banks, childcare providers and credit reference agencies.[8]

Housing benefit claimants are also required to provide a national insurance number for themselves and any partner (or evidence to enable their number to be traced or, if they do not have one, for one to be allocated).[9] This requirement does not apply to any partner who does not have leave to enter or remain in the UK.[10] This also does not apply to people living in hostels, although they are still asked to show evidence of identity.[11]

Notification of the local authority's decision

The local authority must send written notification of how much housing benefit is to be awarded as soon as it makes a decision.[12] The authority must show what the eligible rent is (see the section on Eligible rent and rent restrictions), how much has been deducted (eg for services or for non-dependants), how much the housing benefit is per week, and the first day of entitlement.

In addition to this, the claimant has a right to ask the local authority for a more detailed explanation of how her/his benefit has been worked out. This should be sent within 14 days of the request.[13]

[1] reg 83 Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213; reg 64 Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for pension credit) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/214, each as amended by Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (Amendment) (No 2) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/2967 and Social Security (Electronic Communications) (Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit) Order 2006 SI 2006/2968.

[2] reg 87 Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213; reg 68 Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for pension credit) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/214, each as amended by The Social Security (Miscellaneous Amendments)(No.3) Regulations 2013 SI 2013/2536; DMG Memo 22/13.

[3] reg 82(1) Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213.

[4] reg 64(5B) Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213.

[5] Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (Amendment) Regulations 2008 SI 2008/2299.

[6] Novitskaya v London Borough of Brent & Anor [2009] EWCA Civ 1260; reg 83 Housing Benefit (General) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213.

[7] reg 86 Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213; reg 67 Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for pension credit) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/214.

[8] s.109(B) Social Security Administration Act 1992 as amended by the Social Security (Persons Required to Provide Information) Regulations 2013 SI 2013/1510.

[9] s.1(1A) Social Security Administration Act 1992; see also HB bulletin G7/2013.

[10] reg 4(c) Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213.

[11] s.1(1A) Social Security Administration Act 1992.

[12] reg 90(1) Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213; reg 71(1) Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for pension credit) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/214.

[13] reg 90(2)-(4) Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213; reg 71(2)-(4) Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for pension credit) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/214, each as amended Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (Amendment) (No 2) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/2967 and Social Security (Electronic Communications) (Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit) Order 2006 SI 2006/2968.

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