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Once we have made a decision on your benefit entitlement, we will send you a letter outlining how much you will get.
We know that these letters can be complicated, so we’ve now made it quick and easy to register and view your claim online.
Once registered, you will be able to see how your Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction has been worked out, together with information about when you’ll be paid. You’ll also be able to report any changes using our online form.
We want to make sure you’re getting every penny you are entitled to so please check the information that we have based our decision on very carefully..
Let us know straight away if you think we have got something wrong.
Please check the following very carefully:
- Your weekly earned income – this should be the average total amount of wages you get per week. If you’re paid monthly or every two weeks, this will have been converted into a weekly figure.
- Your partner’s weekly earned income – as above, but for your partner’s wages.
- Any other income – this will normally be the average total amount of any incomes you receive that aren’t wages, such as state benefits and pensions. If you receive more than one, they will have been combined and converted into a weekly figure.
- Assumed income from £XX.XX capital – this figure should be the total balance in your bank accounts and from any other savings or investments at the time you provided us with this information.
If you think this or any other information shown in the letter is incorrect, we want you to tell us straight away so we can put it right.
The easiest way to do this is by using our online enquiry form.
If you disagree with the decision we have made we look at that decision again.
You can download a Benefits appeal form (pdf, 83 KB) (opens new window) that tells you more about this process and has space for you to tell us why you disagree with our decision and your reasons. Alternatively, call us on 0117 922 2300 and we will send a form out to you.
If we agree that the decision is wrong we will correct your claim and write to you to confirm this.
If we still feel that the decision is correct after reviewing all of the relevant law and regulations we will submit your case, or appeal, to an independent tribunal who will make a decision.
Appeals are heard by the Tribunals Service, which is independent of the council.
If we submit an appeal, the Tribunals Service will write to you and provide you with more information about what happens next.
You may be able to get additional help with a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP).
A DHP can help bridge some or all of the gap between your Housing Benefit and the rent that you actually pay. We have limited funds to award DHPs, therefore they can only be awarded to people in financial difficulty and for a fixed period that will not normally be extended.
Please bear in mind that you may have to pay something towards your rent or Council Tax if you are working, or if you are in receipt of certain state benefits, such as Incapacity Benefit. You may also have to meet the costs for personal services included in your rent, such as utilities or meals.
You can apply for a DHP by completing a Discretionary Housing Payment form (pdf, 133 KB) (opens new window).
When there is a change in your circumstances that reduces your entitlement to Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction we need to go back to update your claim from the date the changed happened.
If we decide that we have paid you too much Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction since that date we will write to you explaining what reduced your entitlement and how we worked out the overpayment.
If we delay updating your claim for Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction, or we make a mistake working out your entitlement which results in an overpayment, we will consider whether you could have been aware that you were being overpaid.
If you could have been aware that you were being overpaid, then you will need to pay this money back.
Although in some cases the Jobcentre Plus will pass on changes in your circumstance, this does not always happen and depends on the change you are reporting.
See our Changing your benefits claim page for further information.
When we decide that we have overpaid Housing Benefit and money was paid directly to your landlord, we will also make a decision on who needs to pay this back. Our letter explaining the overpayment advises of this decision.
We can only recover overpaid Housing Benefit from your landlord if the change in your circumstances was something that they can reasonably be expected to have known about.
Where we do not feel it is reasonable that the landlord could have been aware of the change in your circumstances we will recover the overpaid Housing Benefit from you.
We take your Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit payments into account in our assessment of your Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction entitlement.
As these regular payment amounts can often change throughout the course of the year, your Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction awards will need amending. It is very important you tell us of your Tax Credits award whenever you receive a new entitlement notice from HM Revenue and Customs, as they do not inform us directly.
Where we become aware that your Tax Credits entitlement has increased, we must correct your Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction assessment back to the date we started paying you too much.
Excess Council Tax Reduction payments are always recovered from your Council Tax account. You will receive a revised Council Tax Bill with your new payment amounts.
Housing Benefit overpayments can be recovered in a number of ways depending on the circumstances. Our letter advising you of your overpayment also explains how we intend to recover the overpaid Housing Benefit.
If you continue to be entitled to Housing Benefit we will normally reduce your Housing Benefit payments at set rates depending on your circumstances.
If you no longer get Housing Benefit we will invoice you for the full outstanding Housing Benefit overpayment.
If you are finding it difficult to pay your revised Council Tax instalments following the recovery of Council Tax Reduction , you should contact the Local Taxation department to discuss the situation.
Housing Benefit overpayment can be recovered in a number of ways depending on the circumstances. Our letter explaining what change in your circumstances caused the overpayment also explains how we intend to recover the overpaid Housing Benefit.
If you are continuing to get Housing Benefit, we may reduce your Housing Benefit payments at set rates depending on your circumstances. If you are finding this deduction difficult, complete the Housing benefit Income and Expenditure form and we will consider reducing the recovery rate.
If you no longer get Housing Benefit we will invoice you for the full outstanding Housing Benefit overpayment. If you are unable to repay this in full, we may be able to make an arrangement with you to repay it. To discuss repaying an invoice, you can contact us:
- By telephone: 0117 922 2300
- By email: email@example.com
If you have received an invoice for overpaid Housing Benefit and you wish to pay back the full amount, or if you have made an arrangement with us to repay an invoice you can make payment in a number of ways:
- Online - You can pay by credit or debit card using our online payments service. You will need your invoice number, the name as it appears on the invoice, your address and post code, and you credit or debit card details.
- By telephone - Your can pay by credit or debit card by calling us 0117 922 2300. Make sure you have your invoice number, the name as it appears on the invoice, your address and post code, and you credit or debit card details to hand and the Customer Adviser will be happy to help.
- By visiting a Customer Service Point- You can pay by cash, cheque, or by credit or debit card at any of our Customer Service Points across the city.
- By post - You can pay by cheque or postal order by posting it to us at: Housing & Council Tax Benefits, PO Box 43, Bristol, BS99 1BF. Remember to include invoice number, the name as it appears on the invoice, your address and post code with your payment so we know who its for. Never send cash to us through the post.
The Welfare Reform Act will bring many changes to Housing and Council Tax Benefits
So that we can accept claims for benefit and change of circumstance notifications online, we have a legal document authorising us to accept claims and changes electronically (pdf, 2.6 MB) (opens new window).