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How to deal with housing benefit delays

You can only make a new claim for housing benefit if you're either:

The council must usually start paying housing benefit within 2 weeks of you providing all the information they need to decide your claim.

If the housing benefit team cannot process your claim within this timescale, they should make an interim payment if you have a private or housing association tenancy.

An interim payment is also called a payment on account.

How to reduce delays when you apply

Take these steps to help the council process your claim as soon as possible.

1. Send the council all the information it needs

The application form should tell you what information the council needs. You can also ask the council's housing benefit department.

This usually includes proof of:

  • identity

  • national insurance number

  • address

  • rent

  • income if you are working

  • savings

2. Respond quickly to questions

You usually have to give the council information it needs within a month of being asked.

Let the council know if you do not have or cannot find what they ask for. The council could ask for different information or accept other documents.

Keep a record of the information you send. Get receipts for documents you hand over.

If you do not provide the information within a month, the council could decide you cannot get housing benefit.

3. Check the council got your application

Make sure the council receives your application and has all the right information.

Most councils send a letter or email to say they have received your application.

4. Keep your original documents

The housing benefit team will want the original of important documents such as your passport and driving licence, not copies.

Ask them to make copies for their records and leave you with the originals.

What to do if your claim is delayed

Take these steps if you have provided everything you have been asked for.

1. Contact the council

Ask why your housing benefit claim is delayed and see if there's anything you need to do.

You can complain to the council if you have to wait for too long. 

2. Check on your interim payment

If you are a private or housing association tenant, the council should make interim payments automatically as long as you have provided the information to support your claim.

Contact your council and ask for an interim payment or payment on account if your housing benefit has not been processed and you've not received an interim payment after 2 weeks.

3. Continue paying rent

Making small, regular payments is better than nothing at all, so pay something if you can.

Find out how to deal with rent arrears.

4. Keep your landlord updated

Contact your landlord if housing benefit delays mean you will miss a rent payment. Tell them you will be getting housing benefit soon.

Still need help?

An adviser could help with benefit problems:

Last updated: 19 July 2022

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