Housing benefit: change of circumstances

Everyone who claims housing benefit has a duty to tell the Tower Hamlets benefits service about any changes to their circumstances, or changes to the circumstances of anyone else who lives with them if it could affect the amount of benefit awarded.

Landlords who receive benefit direct payments must also report any changes which could affect the claimant’s entitlement.

Examples of  changes that you must tell us about are given on the back of every benefit award letter. The most common are listed below. If you are unsure whether or not to report a change always report it anyway.

You must tell us about any changes even if your benefit is paid direct to your landlord and/or if you get income support and/or jobseeker's allowance and/or employment and support allowance. Pensioners getting guarantee credit should report changes to the pension service.

It is your responsibility to ensure we have the correct information

Time limits

Some changes could mean you will get more housing benefit for example if your income decreases. These are called beneficial changes. You must tell the benefits service within one calendar month of the date of the change. If you delay any longer any extra benefit due to you will only be awarded from the Monday after you report the change and will not normally be backdated.

Other changes will mean you get less housing benefit. You must make sure you tell the benefits service straight away. If you do not  you will be paid too much benefit which you will have to pay back. There are no time limits on how far back the benefits service can go to reclaim overpayments.

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How to report a change

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Examples of changes that you must report

In all instances you will need to tell us the date of the change.

If you or your partner

  • start work or start working more hours
  • stop working or start working less hours
  • have an increase in earnings (including self-employed earnings) the amount and date it increased
  • have a decrease in earnings (including self-employment earnings) the amount and date it decreased
  • stop or start getting statutory sick pay and the amounts and dates of any changes

If you or your partner start/stop receiving

  • income support
  • income-based jobseeker's allowance
  • employment and support allowance
  • a retirement pension - provide details of the amount
  • a private (works) pension or annuity - provide details of the amount .
  • contributions-based jobseeker's allowance, contributory employment and support allowance, incapacity benefit, maternity benefit/allowance, paternity benefit/allowances - provide details of the amount
  • child benefit or a guardian's allowance
  • child tax credit or working tax credit - provide details of the amount

Your rent

  • if you stop being charged rent
  • if you change address
  • if your rent and / or service charges increase or decrease. Provide details of the amount. Council tenants do not have to report changes in rent and tenancy.

Other changes

  • if you go into hospital, the date you went in and again when you are discharged
  • if you are taken into custody or held on remand or are released and the dates and location
  • if while in custody you are sentence to a period in prison
  • if you go away from home and the dates and address you are living at while you are away and your income while away
  • if someone joins your household / comes to live with you and the dates and their income
  • if someone leaves your household / stops living with you and the dates
  • any births, deaths or marriages affecting your household

The above is not a full list. If you are not sure whether to report a change or not report it anyway.

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How to contact us

Tower Hamlets operates as a centralised benefit claims processing service and a dedicated benefits call centre both based at the Town Hall where all postal, email and telephone enquiries should be directed. Home visits can be arranged if you are housebound and do not have anyone who can help you.

Benefits service

Tower Hamlets Town Hall
160 Whitechapel Road
E1 1BJ

Tel: 020 7364 5000
Fax: 020 7364 7048
Email: benefits@towerhamlets.gov.uk

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