What happens if my circumstances change?
If you are getting Housing Benefit and you have had a change in your circumstances, you should report the change to the Housing Benefit department of your local council.
Why do I need to report a change in my circumstances?
A change in your circumstances may affect the amount of benefit you receive.
If you don’t report something, you could end up being paid too much benefit and having to pay it back at a later date. You could also miss out on Housing Benefit money you’re eligible to receive.
In some situations, you could be fined or prosecuted if you don’t report changes that affect your Housing Benefit claim.
If your change of circumstances does affect the amount of benefit you receive, this may be effective either immediately or on the Monday after the change took place.
What is a change of circumstances?
Here is a list of things that you must tell the Housing Benefit department about.
- you move house
- someone else moves into your house, or
- someone moves out of your house
If you (or someone living with you):
- have your benefit stopped or move from one benefit to another (for example from employment and support allowance to jobseekers allowance)
- have a change to the amount of benefit or tax credit you get
- have to pay back a tax credit over payment
- get a new benefit
- get a job or change job
- have a job and change hours, or get a pay rise
- are signed off work and receiving statutory sick pay or reduced pay
- have a change in the amount of savings you have, or
- have a change to the amount of pension you get
- you have a baby
- a child in your house turns 16, or
- a child in your house leaves school
If you or someone living with you:
- goes into, or comes out of, hospital
- goes to prison;,
- becomes a student
- you take in a lodger
- you sublet your house, or
- you are going to be away from your home for a period of time, for example working away or going on an extended holiday
- your rent charge changes (if your rent increases, your claim may be referred to a rent officer for a new decision on the maximum rent that can be paid for your property – for information about the maximum rent see our page on how housing benefit is calculated), or
- you have any other change that may affect your benefit
There is a sample letter in our free resources that you can use to notify the Housing Benefit department of your change of circumstances. If you can, take the letter in personally and ask for a receipt. Keep this in a safe place. If this is not possible, take a copy of the letter and a record of the date that you sent it. This will help avoid problems if the letter gets lost.
I’ve got a letter saying that I have been overpaid benefit
If you receive a letter telling you that you have been paid too much benefit, you should contact an adviser at Shelter Cymru.
An adviser will be able to check if the Housing Benefit department have made a mistake, or help you challenge the decision if the reason you were paid too much benefit was not your fault.
The council may tell you that you have been overpaid benefit if they did not know what your income was for a period. If this is the case you should provide the council with proof of your income for that period and ask them to reassess your entitlement to benefit. Any amount that you should have been entitled to will then be taken off the amount of overpaid benefit that you owe.