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Housing Benefit

We issue Housing Benefit to those in need in Copeland. These benefits may be provided to those who are on low income or are unemployed, carers, sick or disabled. 

Residents who are of working age (i.e. not state pension age), are not currently claiming Housing Benefit and don’t live in specified accommodation must claim Universal Credit. To find out more and claim for housing costs through Universal Credit click here.

A resident may be eligible for housing benefit if one, or more, of the following must apply:

  • of state pension age and has low or no income
  • living in specified accommodation which includes supported or temporary accommodation
  • claiming Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) that includes the severe disability premium

Residents who are unlikely to qualify include those who:

  • have savings of more than £16,000 unless you receive Guaranteed Pension Credit
  • are a student (unless they are disabled or have children)
  • pay rent to live with a close relative
  • receive housing costs via Universal Credit

To check if you are of state pension age click here. 

How can residents claim?

There are a number of ways residents can apply for Housing Benefit including:

  • in person at our offices in Market Hall, Whitehaven and Millom
  • online by clicking here
  • by printing a claim form here and sending it to us via email or posting it to our Market Hall, Whitehaven office. You can also claim Council Tax Support through this form. 
  • by requesting a claim form over the phone at 01946 598300 or by emailing benefits@copeland.gov.uk

For those who live with a partner, one claim should be made for both people. If one person is a student the non-student should complete the claim form noting the student as their partner.

What documents are needed to claim?

Before Housing Benefit can be issued a number of original documents must be provided, copies will not be accepted. We kindly ask residents to provide any documents of importance or value in person at our offices and not by post.

The documents that are needed depend on the residents individual circumstances. For more information and a list of eligible documents click here.

How much will eligible residents receive?

What residents receive in Housing Benefits depends on their individual circumstances. The main factors that can affect the amount a resident receives include.

  • what other benefits they are able to claim
  • the level of income they receive including any pensions
  • the number of bedrooms a property has and if the property is under occupied, according to the government guidance. This is also known as ‘bedroom tax’ – to find out more click here.

The amount a person will receive if they are living in private accommodation is based on Local Housing Allowance. The maximum amount a person receives varies each year. To view the current maximum Local Housing Allowance rates click here.

There are a number of free benefits calculators available online to give residents an idea of what they may be entitled to. To use a free benefits calculator click here.

What happens if a residents circumstances change?

Residents must notify us immediately if they have a change in circumstances. Failure to notify us may lead to housing benefit overpayments or underpayments. Intentional failure to notify us of any change, may be considered as Benefit Fraud and may be punishable by prosecution, a fine or imprisonment. To find out more about Benefit Fraud click here.

Changes in circumstances include but are not limited to changes:

  • in address
  • in household income including other benefits, wages, pensions or income from lodgers. This includes partners and children’s income.
  • to the number of individuals living in the home  
  • in the circumstances of the individuals living in the home including starting or leaving education or study and any changes in employment

Residents can notify us of any changes in writing, by visiting our offices, by email at benefits@copeland.gov.uk or by phone on 01946 598300.

To download a change of circumstances form click here.

What if a resident disagrees with our decision?

Once a resident has completed the Housing Benefit claim form one of our officers will assess the claim against Government criteria and decide how much the claimant is entitled to. Our officer will then write to the claimant to explain the decision and what happens next. A resident can request a ‘Statement of Reasons’ for a more in-depth explanation.

If residents believe we have made the wrong decision in relation to their Housing Benefit entitlement they must notify us within one month of the date of the decision notice. An officer will then revaluate the claim, taking into account any further information provided and will write to the resident to let them know the outcome and whether the entitlement figure will be changed.

If we decide to pay the same or a reduced entitlement a resident then has one month from the date of the second decision notice to request an appeal.  

If the appeal is passed to the Tribunals Service the resident will be sent a copy of our case which should be read carefully. If a resident chooses to attend a hearing in person they can take someone with them to help them state their case such as a solicitor or a friend. If a resident chooses not to attend the hearing the tribunal will base the appeal on a written statement provided by the resident.

At the tribunal the members will take into account the evidence, the law and circumstances at the time of the decision. A decision will be made by members of the tribunal and both the resident and the council will be informed in writing. Any changes to Housing Benefit entitlement will be implemented immediately.

Residents can also go to Citizens Advice for independent advice around benefit claims. 

When is housing benefit paid?

Usually, Housing Benefit is paid from the first Monday following a completed claim. The benefit is then paid once every two or four weeks depending on who it is paid to. We may consider back-dating Housing Benefit payments by up to one month for those who are working age and by up to three months for those who are state pension age.

What if we pay residents too much (overpayments)?

Failure to notify us in a change of circumstances, administrative errors and other factors can lead to Housing Benefit overpayments.

A Housing Benefit overpayment can be deducted from the resident’s weekly allowance if paid directly to the resident, this is known as a weekly re-claim. If the resident is no longer entitled to Housing Benefit the amount may be deducted from other benefits the resident receives or an invoice may be issued.

If the Housing Benefit is paid directly to the landlord then a reduced amount will be paid by the council to the landlord and the resident is responsible for paying the remainder of the rent to the landlord.

If an overpayment has been paid directly to the landlord, through no fault of the tenant, then the overpayment may be deducted from future payments for other tenants to that landlord or an invoice will be issued. These deductions will not be treated as rent arrears for other tenants and the landlord must not try to recover the shortfall from tenants.

If a resident is not happy with our decision relating to Housing Benefit overpayments they may have the right to appeal. Residents must notify us within one month of the date of the decision notice.