Appeals Open or Close
If you are unhappy with the decision made regarding your benefit, there are several options available to you.
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.
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 independent 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 within one calendar month of the date of the letter notifying you of the decision.
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.
Benefits Calculator Open or Close
Change of circumstances Open or Close
If you move house or any details change which may affect your Council Tax liability, you are required by law to notify us.
You must notify us of any of the following changes:
- Have you moved house?
- Do you qualify for a discount disregard?
- Has someone passed away?
- Do you live alone?
- Has someone moved in with you?
- Any other changes? e.g. Change of Name, Change in method of payment.
Council Tax Support Open or Close
From April 2013 every local council had to devise its own local scheme to replace the former national Council Tax Benefit scheme. The government also reduced the amount of money it gave to local councils for this by 10%. Pensioners continue to receive the same level of help under the local schemes as they did under the former national scheme, under the new rules. You can download the housing benefit and council tax support form here.
The changes meant that anyone in the Bolsover District is of working age and who was in receipt of full Council Tax benefit now has to pay at least 8.5% of their Council Tax.
Regulations set by Central Government state that the above changes cannot be applied to claimants of a pensionable age. A person is a pensioner if they have attained the qualifying age for state pension credit and they are not, or, if they have a partner, their partner is not in receipt of income support, income-based jobseekers allowance, income-related employment and support allowance or universal credit.
Discretionary Housing Payments Open or Close
If you are entitled to some help towards your rent or Council Tax, you may be able to apply for an additional award known as a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP). DHPs are paid on top of Housing and Council Tax Benefit to people who find that the shortfall between their benefit and their housing costs causes them exceptional hardship.
DHPs can only be paid up to the maximum amount of Council Tax or eligible rent that is due, and cannot be paid for some service charges included in the rent, for example water charges. They are also only intended to be a temporary top up, so will not be paid indefinitely. You may be able to negotiate a lower rent with your landlord, or may have to consider finding alternative accommodation that you can afford.
The amount of money the Council is allowed for DHPs is limited, awards are made at the Council's discretion, and each application will be considered on it's own merits.
You must make any application for a Discretionary Housing Payment in writing, giving us the reasons why you cannot afford the shortfall between your benefit and your housing costs. We will notify you of our decision in writing. If we turn you down you can ask us to consider your application again, but there is no formal right of appeal.
Please download the DHP form (207kb) here.
Fraud Open or Close
We have a duty under benefit regulations to ensure that benefit is only paid to bona fide persons.
We carry out investigations 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. This action could be prosecution in Court, possibly leading to a criminal record or imprisonment. 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.
If you know, or suspect, that a person is claiming Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Support that they are not entitled to please contact us immediately. For example someone could:
- 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 call us or contact the Department for Work and Pensions.
General Benefits and Council tax Information Open or Close
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 the benefits 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
- 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.
Local Housing Allowance Open or Close
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).
How do I claim?
You must contact us for an application form or download one on the 'Benefits' page. 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.
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 and receive a consistent 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.
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.
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 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.
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 are 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.
Current LHA rates 2017/18
Non-Dependants Open or Close
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 Open or Close
An overpayment is when benefit has been paid to someone but they are not entitled to receive it. 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. 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 receive 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. 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.
Self Employed Open or Close
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.
Students Open or Close
Most students in full-time higher education cannot claim Housing Benefit. If you are a student you can only claim if you are:
studying part-time; or
under 19 and on a course which is NOT a higher education course; or
a single parent; or
a student with a disability; or
60 or over; or
one of a couple, both of you are students and you have dependant children.