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Benefits

The Housing Benefit scheme is administered under legislation and regulations issued by central government to assist residents, on a low income, to meet the costs of their rent.

There are several types of benefits you may be able to claim to assist with your rent including rent rebate, rent allowance or Local Housing Allowance (LHA). You can also use this calculator to calculate your Housing Benefit entitlement before applying and we have also introduced our own Debt Recovery Policy (223kb).

  • Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) – 0844 848 9800
  • Welfare Rights – email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or telephone: 01629 531535
  • Derbyshire Unemployed Workers Centre – 01246 231441
  • Advice Derbyshire – 0844 848 9800
  • 2 Shires Credit Union – 01909 500575
  • National Debt line – 0808 808 4000
  • Release – 01773 306289 or 07932 088331

Need Assistance with your claim?

We may be able to offer you with assistance in applying for Benefits or maintaining your data. If you are unable to visit one of our Contact Centres and would like a Visiting Officer to assist you, in your own property, please contact us on 01246 242436.

We can visit you to offer you assistance with completing a new claim form, providing details or evidence in support of your new claim or a change in circumstances. We would generally contact you, prior to visiting, to arrange a mutually convienient time and would always carry photographic Bolsover District Council endorsed ID.

Appeals

If having received notification of your benefit claim you are unsure of the decision made or you do not agree with it there are several options available to you.

If you are unsure of the decision or would like it explained further

If you want to ask further questions or need an explanation of anything about the decision on your claim you can request this. You should submit any such request in writing, to The Benefits Department, within one calendar month of the date of your decision. You should state exactly what it is that you are querying or requesting be explained in your request.

Do you think our decision is wrong?

As soon as you get our decision letter you should check its content. If you think we have made a mistake. You can ask for more information before deciding if we have made a mistake (as described above), but you do not have to.

If you think that we have made a mistake you can request the following:

  • That we look at our decision again, or
  • That we pass your case to an independant tribunal, that is run by the Tribunals Service, by appealing against the decision.

If you want us to look at our decision again, or if you want to appeal, you must write and tell us why you think our decision is wrong. Your letter must be received within one calendar month of the date of the letter notifying you of the decision.

The 'request to look at my benefit ' form can be used to ensure that you provide all the neccesary information. You must complete this and return it to us along with any evidence in support of your request. However, if you have requested a full statement of reasons you have one calendar month from the date of the original decision letter, plus the time it took for us to send out our 'statement of reasons', to decide if you think our benefit decision is wrong.

If you ask us to look at a decision again, more than one calendar month after the date of our decision letter, you should tell us what has prevented you from writing to us earlier.

What happens next?

We will check your claim thoroughly and take account of any more information you have provided with your written request. It may also mean that we have to contact you for further information.

We could then:

  • Change our decision and pay you more benefit;
  • Change our decision and pay you less benefit; or
  • Decide the decision is already correct and therefore make no changes.

In any of the above cases we will write to you to let you know what we have decided and the reasons for the decision.

If you have asked us to look at your case again, and you are still not happy with our decision, you can still appeal. Your case will then be referred to the Tribunals Service. You must do this in writing, within one calendar month of the date of our decision letter. If you appealed we will pass your case to the Tribunals Service. We will do this if we have not changed our decision or if we have changed our decision and we are now paying you less benefit.

If your appeal is late, and we do not accept your reasons for the delay, your case will still be passed to the Tribunals Service for consideration.

The Tribunals Service

If we are unable to alter our decision we will prepare your case for an Independent Tribunal and tell you if you need to do anything further.

These are administered by the HM Courts and Tribunal Service. We will send both you and the HM Courts and Tribunals Service a copy of our response. You can choose an oral or paper based hearing. The tribunal will then make a decision on your appeal.

Change Of Circumstances

If you are currently claiming Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Support you will have signed a declaration on your initial application form. In this declaration you agreed that you would let us know about any change in circumstances that you, or anyone living with you, may have that could affect your benefit.
 
The law says that you must tell us if there is any change to the information we have used to assess your entitlement to benefit/support. You should therefore inform us of any change to your circumstances. You can contact us by telephoning 01246 242443,  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or you can download a change in circumstances form (157kb).
 
You should tell us straight away about any change in your circumstances, even if you have already told someone else (e.g. another Local Authority Department, The Job Centre Plus, The Department for Work and Pensions or your Landlord). This is because other agencies do not always pass on your information to us and it is ultimately your responsibility to let us know of any changes.
 
Failure to let us know of any changes may result in you being held responsible for any overpayment that occurs, even if you have already informed someone else of your change.
 
If your change in circumstances is beneficial to your benefit entitlement, and you fail to notify us of this within one calendar month of the date that your circumstances changed, we will only be able to apply the change(s) to your claim from the Monday following the date that you notify us. Unfortunately, this may mean that you lose out on Benefit entitlement unless you are also able to evidence extenuating circumstances for your failure to do so.

Council Tax Support

Please see our main Council Tax Support page for more information.

Discretionary Housing Payments

Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP's) are extra payments to help you pay your rent. You are only able to claim DHP's if you are eligible for Housing Benefit. Any awards are in addition to any Housing Benefit that have already been awarded.
 
There is only a certain amount of money available, each year, that can be spent on DHP's and we cannot spend more than this amount. We have produced a policy and procedure (48kb) that highlights how we will deal with these payments. 
 
We cannot give DHP's for service charges not covered by Housing Benefit; any rent you owe; money taken from your Housing Benefit because your JSA, ESA or Child Support has been sanctioned; housing benefit payments because they are suspended; rent, if you are only entitled to Council Tax Support;
 
How do I apply for Discretionary Housing Payments?
You can apply for DHP's if you are currently entitled to Housing Benefit. Please telephone us on 01246 242436, submit an enquiry form or complete the DHP form (207kb), write to us at The Benefits Department, Bolsover District Council, The Arc, High Street, Clowne, Derbyshire, S43 4JY.
 
How do we decide if you are eligible for DHP's?
We can make Discretionary Housing Payments if we decide that someone needs extra help with Housing Costs. When making our decision we consider your income,  your savings, your outgoings, if anyone else in your house can help you, if you have tried to negotiate a lower rent with your landlord, if you have any loans or debts, if you could manage your money better, what changes you have made or are looking to make to manage the situation yourself and if anyone in your family is ill or disabled.
 
In order to make a decision we will need to ask you for information and evidence to support your application. Once a decision has been made we will write to you telling you the decision and our reasons for the decision.
 
How much Discretionary Housing Payments will be made?
The amount you receive from DHP's is totally dependant upon your circumstances. We look at each case individually as no two claims for such payments are ever identical. For help with with your rent, we cannot give you more than your total rent (less any amounts for service costs e.g Electricity or water).
 
How long will I receive Discretionary Housing Payments for?
As mentioned previously, there are no guarantees that DHP's will be awarded. However, if awarded these types of payments are generally awarded to provide short term help. Again, each claim will be considered individually and therefore in general it is impossible to state how long each claim will be awarded for without considering the individual circumstances. If successful, DHP's will be paid along with your Housing Benefit entitlement.
 
If your circumstances change then your DHP entitlement may need to be adjusted. Therefore, it is important that you let us know of ALL changes to your circumstances.
 
If you fail to notify us of a change in circumstance, which would lead to a change in the amount of Discretionary Housing Payments you are entitled to, then you may have to pay back some, or all of any amount that you have received.

Forthcoming Changes

National roll-out of Universal Credit for single claimants

Universal Credit is a new single monthly payment that is being introduced for people who are looking for work or who are already working but only in receipt of a low income.

It will bring together and replace a range of working-age benefits into one single simple monthly payment.

Universal Credit has been on trial in several pathfinder sites throughout England, Scotland and Wales since 2013. From 2015 it will begin to be rolled out to the remaining Local Authority areas, initially for single working age claimants. The Benefits that it will replace are as follows:

  • income-based Jobseekers Allowance
  • income-related Employment & Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Child Tax Credits
  • Working Tax Credits
  • Housing Benefits

Universal Credit Vs Legacy Benefits - what are the main differences?

  • Will mainly be claimed and maintained via your own online account
  • Payable via one single calendar monthly payment
  • Housing costs will also be included within this single monthly payment
  • As your Housing Costs will be included within Universal Credit you will assume ALL responsibility for maintaining your own rental payments.

Fraud

We have a duty under benefit regulations to ensure that benefit is only paid to bona fide persons.
 
Investigations are carried out where it is felt that claimants are receiving benefit to which they are not entitled. Benefit fraud is a crime and is dealt with in the appropriate way. Anyone found committing benefit fraud will have to pay back any money to which they had no entitlement and some may have additional action taken against them.
 
This action could be prosecution in Court, which can lead to a criminal record or imprisonment, a formal caution which is held on record by the Department for Work and Pensions, or, an additional financial penalty known as an Administrative Penalty. Each case is looked at on its own merits and the seriousness of the offence.
 
Do you know, or suspect, that a person is claiming Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Support that they are not entitled to? For example they:
  • Claim benefit for a property and live somewhere else;
  • Have other people living in the property but they have not told us about them;
  • Are working and claiming Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance;
  • Have failed to declare to us ALL of their income; or
  • Have failed to inform us about their savings or investments (including property that they own).
If you believe someone to be claiming benefits fraudulently, you can:
  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. the Benefits Department in complete confidence to report your suspicions
or telephone 01246 242444.
Externally: Online at the Department for Work and Pensions, Telephone to the National Benefit Fraud Hotline 0800 854440 (text phone 0800 3200512).
Write to NBFH, PO Box 224, Preston PR1 1GP

 

Local Housing Allowance

If you are a private tenant , renting property or a room from a private landlord and you are on a low income, you may be able to claim and receive Local Housing Allowance (LHA). LHA is a way of calculating Housing Benefit. The calculation is based on the area in which you live and the number of bedrooms your personal circumstances require. It ensures that tenants in similar circumstances, residing in the same area and receiving the same amount of financial support, receive a consistant amount towards their housing costs.

As the LHA is based on your housing needs (rather than your actual housing costs), you can decide if you want to rent a property where the rent is above or below your LHA rate (128kb). Where the rent is more than your LHA rate you would be required to pay the difference between your assessed LHA rate and your actual rental liability.

Who does LHA affect?

LHA applies to:

  • Claimants who claimed for the first time after the 7th April 2008;
  • Claimants who have changed address after the 7th April 2008; (Please note that this also includes people who have changed rooms within the same property)
  • Claimants who are reclaiming after a gap in their claim of at least one week;

LHA does not apply to:

  • Existing Housing Benefit claimants (who do not fall under any of the above);
  • Tenants of Housing Associations or other Social/Charitable Landlords;
  • Council Tenants;
  • Tenants who live in Hostels (NACRO)/Houseboats/Mobile Homes or Caravans;
  • Tenants whose tenancy began before 1989;
  • Tenants whose rent includes a substantial element of Board/Lodging;
  • Tenants in shared ownerships;
  • Any letting that is 'exempt' accommodation; (where the care, support or supervision provided by the Landlord and is on a more than 'minimal' basis)
  • All 'non-LHA' tenants will continue to be assessed under the 'pre LHA' Housing Benefit scheme.

Who decides the LHA rates?

The LHA rates are decided by the Rent Officer. This was also the case with the 'pre April 2008' Rent Officer Decisions. The Rent Officer will set the rates (128kb) annually each April, taking into account the Consumer Price Index (CPI) when determining the forthcoming years rates. The figures are then passed through to us to advertise to our customers and to use in the assessment of claims.

How are my LHA rates worked out?

The amount of LHA you receive is determined by:

  • The area you live in, this is known as the Broad Marker Rental Area (BRMA); and
  • Who lives in your House with you, known as the size criteria.

You can find out which BRMA you property is located in by clicking here. You can also calculate your 'size criteria'.

Central Government have introduced 'caps' to the amount of LHA from the 1st April 2011 and the government website Gov.uk will provide you more information on this. This means that no area in the UK will receive LHA rates above the following:

  • £250.00 per week for a one bedroom property
  • £290.00 per week for a two bedroom property
  • £340.00 per week for a three bedroom property
  • £400.00 per week for a four bedroom property
Current LHA Rates
LHA rates have been frozen for a period of one year and reviewed annually in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI). This will replace the previous requirement to review the LHA amount used for each individual based on their unique annual anniversary date. This date was previously determined based on their date of claim, date they changed address or the date there was a significant change in their household circumstances.

How do I claim?

You must contact us for an application form or download one from the Read it Online column on the right. You can visit us in person or telephone us for advice. Complete your application form and return it with all the relevant original documents as soon as possible. The claim form tells you exactly what you need to send us. You may also claim as part of another claim for a separate government benefit, allowance or Pension Credit

Non-Dependants

A non-dependant generally is a grown up Son or Daughter, Friend or Relative that lives within your household.

If you have a non-dependant adult, living in your household, your Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support could be subject to a non-dependant deduction, dependent upon their income, age, and your disability status. This is because it is assumed that the non-dependant will contribute towards your rent, rates and/or Council Tax.

There will be no non-dependant deduction where the claimant is:

  • registered blind or has recently regained their sight
  • receiving the care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payments (PIP) - at any rate
  • receives Attendance Allowance - at any rate

When a deduction is made

  • One non-dependant deduction will be applied per non-dependant (or non-dependant couple) in your household.
  • For non-dependants in renumerative work the level of deduction is based on their Gross earnings rather than their NET earnings.
  • The lowest deduction will be applied for any non-dependant NOT in work, regardless of their income from state benefits or private pensions.

Non-dependants with no deduction

  • A non-dependant aged under 18
  • A non-dependant in receipt of Pension Credits (either kind)
  • A non-dependant aged under 25 receiving a passported benefit (excluding 'main phase' ESA)
  • A Youth Trainee
  • A non-dependant in prison or similar detention
  • A non-dependant who has been in hospital for 52 weeks or more
  • A temporary resident or visitor
  • A full time student (during a period of study)
  • A full time student (during a vacation period providing they are not in remunerative work during this period of time)

For any non-dependant in work a deduction will be applied to your Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Support dependent upon the level of their Gross income.

Overpayments

An overpayment is when benefit has been paid to someone but they are not entitled to receive it. This can happen for a number of reasons including we are not told about a change in circumstances, there may be an increase or change in income or capital, somebody else moving into the household, or vacating the property or a claimant has deliberately claimed benefit to which they are not entitled.

It is therefore important that you notify us of any change in circumstance as soon as possible in order to avoid being overpaid Housing Benefit.

Do all overpayments have to be paid back?

We have the discretion to recover all overpayments, except in some cases when the overpayment has come about as a result of 'official error'. Overpayments that are caused by 'official error' cannot be recovered, unless it was reasonable for the tenant or landlord to have known that they were being overpaid. Overpayments can be recovered from either the person who caused the overpayment, or the person who received the overpayment.

How are overpayments recovered?

  • If Housing Benefit is still in payment; it is likely that we will recover any overpayment by reducing the amount of benefit you recieve each week. Using the amount reduced from your benefit to reduce the outstanding overpayment. You must then make up the difference to your Landlord to avoid accumulating rent arrears.
  • If Housing Benefit is no longer in payment; it is likely that we will issue the person from whom we are seeking recovery with an invoice for the overpaid amount. An arrangement should then be made with our recovery department to pay back the overpaid amount.
  • If Housing Benefit payments have been made to the Landlord; we may ask the Landlord to repay the amount in certain circumstances.
  • If you are on Social Security benefits; we can ask the Department for Work and Pensions to make deductions from your benefit to recover the overpayment.
  • If you have vacated our area; we can ask your new Local Authority to recover the overpayment from your Housing Benefit that is paid by them.
  • The decision on how we choose to recover the overpayment is at our discretion and can not be appealed.

What will happen if an overpayment is not repaid?

If an invoice remains unpaid, or someone does not keep to an arrangement to repay the debt, over time this will lead to further action being taken. This may include pursuing the debt in the County Court.

What if I cannot afford the recovery rate being taken?

If you want us to look again at the amount we take from your Housing Benefit please contact us. In order to reach a decision, to reduce the amount we take, we may ask for more information.

Persons From Abroad

This page is currently being updated

Self Employed

If you are self employed and on a low income you may be entitled to Housing Benefit. In order for us to determine if you are eligible we will need to look at your net weekly income from your self employed earnings and any other income and capital that you may have.

In order to support your application for Housing Benefit we request that you provide your last six months income and expenditure accounts for your business. These do not have to be audited by a professional accountant but should show all of your weekly/monthly income and expenses. If you have only just become self employed we will require a 13-week forecast of your projected earnings and expenditure. We will then review your claim after this period to ensure that the income we are using for you is correct and that you are receiving the right amount of benefit.

If you have not kept records of your self employed accounts you should complete a 'Self Employed' proforma and provide this in support of your application for benefit. However, it is advised that for future purposes that you keep weekly/monthly records of your income and expenditure as this will be required to assess any future benefit entitlement. You may also be required to provide these in support of your Income Tax returns.

How is your Self Employed Income assessed?

We need to calculate your net profit from your total income. We calculate this as follows:

  • Gross Income - Allowable Expenses = Pre-tax profit

From this figure we then deduct any amount you would be expected to pay in tax and national insurance, and half of any amount you pay towards your pension. This gives a net profit figure. This is not necessarily the same figure used by HM Revenues and Customs, as not all of your business expenses are allowable for Housing Benefit purposes.

What are 'allowable' business expenses?

Allowable expenses are 'expenses' that we consider to be reasonable and incurred wholly for the day-to-day running costs of the business.

Examples of allowable expenses include rent and water rates for business premises only; gas, electricity and other fuel costs on the business premises; telephone charges (not including any amount for personal use); advertising costs; postage and stationary; legal and accountancy fees; buying stock and materials; motor/travel expenses (not including any amount for personal use).

There are certain expenses that HM Revenues and Customs will allow that cannot be included as an 'allowable' expense when assessing your Housing Benefit, these include Depreciation; Capital expenditure and Business entertainment.

Self Employed Child Minders

If you are a self employed child-minder we do not deduct business expenses. We arrive at your net profit by deducting tax, national insurance and half of any pension contributions from one third of your gross income. This figure is then used to determine any entitlement to Housing Benefit.

Students

If you are one of the following you may be entitled to claim Housing Benefit:

  • A student who is entitled to JSA(IB), ESA (IR) or Income Support;
  • A part-time student;
  • A student aged 60 and above;
  • A student that is aged below 21 and not studying a higher education course (and began the course prior to their 19th Birthday);
  • A student aged below 20, on a 'non-advanced' course of Full Time Education or approved training (and began the course prior to their 19th Birthday);
  • A student couple that is responsible for a child;
  • A lone parent that is responsible for a child;
  • A single student that is responsible for a Foster Child (that has been placed with them by the Local Authority);
  • A student qualifying for a Disability Premium (inc. students that are: registered blind, are receiving Disability Living Allowance or Long Term Incapacity Benefit);
  • A student that is currently absent from thier studies, for a maximum period of one year, due to illness or the requirement to care for another person (This only applies if the Education Establishment agree to the absence).

Which member of a couple should claim?

Partner A Partner B Who can claim?
Student in one of categories above Student in one of categories above Either
Student in one of categories above Student not in one of categories above Partner A only
Student in one of categories above Non-student Either
Student not in one of the categories above Student not in one of the categories above Neither
Student not in one of the categories above Non-student Partner B only

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Housing Benefit & Council Tax Support contacts

 01246 242436

 01246 242446 (LHA Hotline)

 01246 242438 (Landlord Hotline)

 01246 242424

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Change of Circumstances Form

Debt Recovery Policy

Discretionary Housing Payments Application

Discretionary Housing Payments Policy

Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support Form

LHA Form - Payments Direct to Landlord

LHA Rates 2016

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