IMPORTANT: Coronavirus update for benefits customers
Please be aware that due to social distancing measures we will no longer be able to see customers at our Lodge Road offices until further notice.
If you have an enquiry about your benefits or applying for benefits, please call us on 01327 871100 or email email@example.com
If you have been asked to supply evidence for your claim, you can post this to our offices at Lodge Road or email this electronically to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will accept photos and scanned images of documents.
If you want more information about our decision you must contact us straight away, because you only have one month from the date of the decision letter to ask us to look at your claim again, or to appeal against it. You can also ask for a written statement of reasons for the decision, This sets out:
- The information we have used to make our decision,
- How your benefit has been calculated,
- The way any overpayment has been calculated(if applicable)
- The relevant Housing Benefit regulations which apply to your case and the reason why they do/do not apply
If you want us to look at a decision again, you have two options:
1. You can ask us to revise our decision.
Please write to us within one month of the date of the letter telling you our decision, giving the reasons why you disagree. We will look at our decision again and tell you what the outcome is. If you remain unhappy after a revision you then have the right to appeal this decision.
2. You can appeal against the decision.
Please write to us within one month of the date of the letter telling you our decision, giving the reasons why you disagree. We will look at our decision again and tell you what the outcome is. If we do not change our decision, we will automatically pass your appeal to the Appeals Service and a tribunal hearing will be arranged to consider your appeal.
NB If you choose for us to look at your claim and revise our decision (option 1 above). You still have the right to request an appeal to a Tribunal Hearing (option 2) at a later stage, providing you inform us in writing within one month of receiving the outcome letter of your revision request.
An overpayment occurs where you have been paid more benefit than you are entitled to. A change of circumstances may reduce your benefit. This could be for a number of reasons.
- An increase in your income
- Someone moving in with you
- You moving out of the property
If we do not know about a change in circumstances until sometime after it has happened an overpayment may occur. If an overpayment arises, the Council are legally obliged to try and get the money back.
How will the overpayment be recovered?
The overpayment may be recovered from either the person who caused the overpayment, or the person who received the overpayment.
Do you always recover all the overpayment in one go?
Overpayment of housing benefit will, if possible, be recovered direct from your on-going entitlement to benefit at set weekly rates. Overpayment of Council Tax Reduction Scheme will be payable through your Council Tax bill. Please contact us if you wish to make an arrangement to clear the overpayment.
If your housing benefit is paid direct to your Landlord we will notify you and your landlord of the overpayment and we will deduct a set amount from your benefit entitlement from the amount that is sent direct to your Landlord.
If you no longer qualify for Housing Benefit an invoice will be sent to you and if you cannot make full payment all in one go, you can make a request to arrange repayment of the debt by instalments.
Arrangements can be made by telephoning the Council's debt recovery unit on (01327) 302366.
What if I can't pay the money back?
If you let us know that you are having difficulty making repayments we can consider recovering the debt over a longer period of time. You should contact the Council’s debt recovery unit (on the above number) to discuss.
Can I appeal against an overpayment?
Yes - you have one calendar month from the date you are notified about the overpayment in which to make an appeal. (see the notes on the appeal process)
If we are making direct deductions from benefit being paid to your Landlord they can also appeal.
What happens if the Overpayment is not repaid?
Please do not ignore our letters as the debt will not go way. If the overpayment remains unpaid, or an agreement to repay the debt is not being maintained , the Council may take legal action through the Courts to recover the debt owed. If we do have to take further action to recover the money the amount you owe will increase because if the debt is taken to Court, costs will be incurred.
Discretionary Housing Payments
What are Discretionary Housing Payments?
Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) provide customers with further financial assistance when a local authority considers that help with housing costs is needed.
Whether you are granted a DHP, how much it is and for how long it is paid will be a decision for the local authority and will entirely depend on an individual’s circumstances and the purpose of the DHP.
Who is entitled to claim DHP's?
Anyone who is currently claiming Housing Benefit and requires further assistance with housing costs.
What will they cover?
Among other things DHPs will cover:
- Restrictions in Housing Benefit allowance following the introduction of size criteria in the social rented sector.
- Increase in essential work-related expenditure due to moving further from your place of employment.
- Rent deposits or rent in advance if you need to move home.
What information do they need to provide?
You must provide any information that is relevant to your claim to help the decision maker fully assess your claim and come to a decision.
How do I make a claim?
Please call the office to request an application form.
Additional DHP funding
The Government has made an additional £30 million available to the DHP fund from 2013/14 specifically to help those affected by the introduction of size criteria rules in to the social rented sector and especially people living in significantly adapted accommodation.
If you live in accommodation that has been significantly adapted for you or someone in your household due to a disability, you may be entitled to a DHP to make up any shortfall in your rent from having a reduction for your spare room.