Housing benefit: Dealing with changes

How to report changes

What changes to report

You must tell the council about changes that could affect how much housing benefit you’ll get.

This includes changes to your:

  • finances – income from work or other benefits, or changes to your savings
  • household – if the number of people you live with goes up or down
  • rent – unless you’re a council tenant

You should also tell the council if you will be away from home.

Contact your council for advice if you're not sure if a change affects your claim. Their website should have examples of changes to report. If you're not sure, report it anyway.

Find your council’s housing benefit department on GOV.UK

When to report changes

Always report changes as soon as possible. You could also tell the council in advance about any changes you know are happening which haven’t taken effect yet.

Most councils let you report changes online or by phone. Follow this up with a letter or email in case there’s any dispute later.

Use Shelter’s template letter to tell the council about a change in your circumstances

If you don’t report changes within a month, you could lose out on money you’re entitled to or get paid too much.

You’ll usually have to repay any overpayments. You could face a fine if you didn’t have a good reason for not reporting a change.

Supporting evidence

You’ll usually need to provide proof of a change when you report it.

Check what kind of information the council accept. You’ll usually have to provide original documents, not photocopies.

The council will contact you if they need further evidence, for example:

  • your latest tenancy agreement
  • recent payslips
  • bank statements

You’ll normally have a month to provide it.

How long it takes

The average processing time for a change of circumstances is 4 days.

You'll usually get a letter from the council letting you know how your claim is affected, including:

  • how much money you’ll get
  • when a change takes effect
  • if you have to pay anything back

Normally your housing benefit will be adjusted from the Monday after the change occurred.

You can ask for a review of decisions you think are wrong. Make a complaint if your claim is affected by a delay.

Last updated 24 September 2018 | © Shelter

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