Apply for Benefits

There are two types of benefit available: Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction. They are paid to people who qualify for help with their housing costs. Both are means-tested.

Housing Benefit is now only available to existing claimants of Housing Benefit or certain groups of people.

You can only apply for Housing Benefit if:

  • You and your partner are over state pension credit age (if your partner is of working age, you must claim Universal Credit)
  • You are living in temporary accommodation
  • You are living in supported accommodation and you require that support
  • You are entitled to the Severe Disability Premium, (you must live alone, be in receipt of enhanced rate of DLA or PIP and no one receives Carers Allowance on your behalf)

Most housing costs are now met by Universal Credit as a Housing Element within their Universal Credit award.

How to make a claim

The fastest way to apply is by using our online eBenefits service:

Apply for Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction/Second Adult Rebate

The form indicates what you may be entitled to and gives you the option of submitting a claim. This claim will be sent to our Benefit Team. Usually your claim will start from the Monday following receipt of your form.

  • Do not try to attach the proof to your form as the size of the file often prevents this. Please email photos of your documents to benefits@north-herts.gov.uk
  • Do NOT post original documents to us as they will not be returned. If you are unable to email them you can post copies of them to us.

The full Council Tax Reduction Scheme can be found at the foot of this page.

How benefits are paid

Council Tax Reduction is a discount credited directly to your Council Tax account, reducing the amount of Council Tax bill that you have to pay.

Housing Benefit is paid by BACS direct to your bank or building society account; this is our preferred method of payment as the money is available immediately and it is the safest method. We cannot pay into the Post Office account that other state benefits are paid into.

All payments are made 4-weekly in arrears.

If you are more than 8 weeks in arrears with your rent we can pay your landlord directly, however they must agree to accept payment. In some circumstances we can pay your landlord direct even if you do not have arrears, however there are certain criteria which have to be satisfied to allow this. Please contact us for more details and an application form.

Who qualifies for the benefits?

Benefit is awarded depending on your income and savings as well as income received by other members of the household.

You may qualify if you are:

  • Of pensionable age receiving other state benefits
  • Working but on a low income
  • Working part time
  • Self employed on a low income

The amount of benefit entitlement depends upon:

  1. The amount of Council Tax and/or the amount of rent you are liable to pay.
  2. The number of bedrooms in your property.
  3. Who lives in your house
  4. Your weekly income (the total amount of income you receive)
  5. Your capital or savings
  6. Whether a non-dependant lives with you such as a grown up son or daughter, parent, or friend

You will not receive Benefit if you have savings of more than £16,000, unless you are over 60 and in receipt of Pension Credit Guarantee Credit.

Please note that Maintenance payments received, Child Benefit, Attendance Allowance and Disability Living Allowance are disregarded, however we still need to know about these, as they are beneficial to your claim.

When to make a claim

You should make a claim as soon as your circumstances change and you face financial difficulty.

Do not delay in sending in your claim form even if any of the proof we ask for is not available at the moment - you could lose benefit. However, you must send the information as soon as possible. We cannot work out your benefit without it.  However, DO NOT send original documents to us.  You can email photo's of your original documents to benefits@north-herts.gov.uk

You can apply for backdated benefit to allow you to claim from an earlier date, if you can show that you had a good reason for not claiming earlier.

Tell us about a change in your circumstances straight away

We sometimes match your income data, like earnings and occupational pension details, with that held at Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to make sure your entitlement is correct.

If there is a discrepancy and you have been overpaid, we will require this to be paid back, and depending on the circumstances we may report to the DWP that a possible fraud has taken place. So make sure you tell us about your changes straight away, rather than wait for any data matching to take place.

Pension credits

If you or your partner are over Pension Credit age and would like to claim Pension credits, information can be found at GOV.UK or by phone on 0800 99 1234.

Help and advice

Citizens Advice North Hertfordshire can assist with general benefit enquiries. They can also advise you if you are not satisfied with the result of your claim.