Housing benefit entitlement

Start of entitlement

This is determined by your date of claim. For new claims entitlement normally starts from the first Monday after your claim is received by Tower Hamlets benefits service. It is therefore important not to delay making a claim.

If you request a claim form by telephone, email or personal visit to any of the council's One Stop Shops and subsequently complete and return that form to the benefits service or the One Stop Shop within one calendar month, your claim will be treated as being made on the date of your initial request.

If you claim housing benefit (either direct to the council or through the Department for Work and Pensions)  within one month of claiming income support, income-based jobseeker's allowance, income-related employment and support allowance or pension guarantee credit, the date you are awarded either one of those benefits will be treated as your date of claim.

If you are 60 or over and claim housing benefit it may be possible to treat your claim as being made up to 13 weeks before the date of claim but only if you would have otherwise been entitled and had reached the age of 60.

End of entitlement

Entitlement will continue until there is a change of circumstances that means entitlement must end.  For example an increase in your income could mean that you no longer qualify for any benefit, an increase in your savings to more than £16,000 will mean that you are excluded from entitlement. 

If you stop being liable for rent your housing benefit must also end.

How is housing benefit paid?

How your housing benefit is paid will depend on who your landlord is and whether you get local housing allowance or not.

  • Council tenants will have any housing benefit entitlement credited to their rent account as a rent rebate every week.
  • Private landlord tenants that are paid housing benefit using the local housing allowance rates will be paid their benefit weekly by bank cheque. If they have been receiving housing benefit continuously since before 7 April 2008, and have not changed address since then, can choose to have their benefit paid to their landlord or themselves 
  • Housing association tenants can choose to receive their benefit themselves by bank cheque or paid to direct to their landlord.

Whatever method is used to pay your benefit it remains your responsibility to pay any rent due under the terms of your tenancy agreement and to keep in regular contact with your landlord.

What if I have rent arrears?

Benefit claimants that have rent arrears equivalent to eight weeks full rent will normally have their benefit paid direct to the landlord.

Those that are having deductions to their social security benefits in respect of rent payments will also have their housing benefit paid direct to their landlord (but only if the benefits service is made aware of the deductions).

When is it paid?

If housing benefit is paid direct to your landlord (other than council tenants) it is paid every four weeks in arrears. This can mean that your rent account will regularly show arrears. Most housing associations are aware of this.

If housing benefit is paid to you it is paid weekly at the end of the week to which it relates.

How much housing benefit will I receive?

This will depend on how much your rent is, who your landlord is, what your income is, your applicable amount and whether there are any other people (whom we call non-dependants) living with you. There are also rules for working out your rent if you are a private-landlord tenant.

The maximum amount that any claimant could get help with is 100 per cent of their eligible rent.  However, not everyone can get this much help because of the other factors that have to be taken into account.

Applicable amount

We work out a notional amount of income that the claimant might be able to claim from the Department for Work and Pensions if he or she had no income whatsoever.  This notional amount is called an applicable amount.

Non-dependants

For housing benefit purposes non-dependants are other adults (over the age of 18) living with the claimant for example relatives. This does not include the partner of the claimant (unless you are separated) or any joint tenants with the claimant.

Eligible rent

Eligible rent is the amount of your rent that is taken into account. It may not be the same as your actual rent. The way eligible rent is worked out  varies depending on the type of landlord you have.

Extended payments

Extended payments are intended to help people claiming benefits to get back into full time work after a period of unemployment, incapacity or reduced hours of employment or reduced earnings.

How much are they?

They are an extra four weeks housing benefit paid at the same rate as you were getting before income support, income-based jobseeker's allowance, or employment and support allowance ended or before incapacity benefit or severe disablement allowance ended. They start from the Monday after those benefits ended.

How to claim extended payments

Telephone 020 736 5001 or email the benefits service and tell them that you want to claim an extended payment and how long your job/increased hours/increased pay is expected to last.

The benefits service will check to see if you meet the conditions and let you know.

You will need to tell us about starting work and if your entitlement to other benefits ends straight away.

How to contact us

Tower Hamlets operates 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
London Borough of Tower Hamlets
Mulberry Place
5 Clove Crescent
London
E14 2BG

Telephone: 020 7364 5001     
Fax: 020 7364 7048

Email: benefits@towerhamlets.gov.uk

Personal callers should visit their nearest One Stop Shop to hand in claim forms, obtain receipts and have original evidence photocopied.