What does my Housing Benefit decision mean?
Once your claim for Housing Benefit has been processed, you will receive a decision letter. This page tells you how to work out what the letter says and what you can do if you disagree with it.
Understanding the letter
You should always check your housing benefit decision letter carefully. The decision letter will tell you if you are entitled to any benefit and, if so, how much. It should also explain how your benefit was calculated.
The letter should include all of the things described below:
Your eligible rent
Your eligible rent is usually the actual rent charged by your landlord, minus amounts for:
- any ineligible service charges
- any spare bedrooms which the rules say you are not entitled to (known as ‘the bedroom tax‘)
- any non-dependant adults living with you who could contribute to the rent
Housing benefit/rent allowance
This is the amount of benefit that you will receive, or that will be paid directly to your landlord.
If the amount here is less than the eligible rent, then there is a shortfall between your benefit and your rent charge. You will have to make up this shortfall yourself. You might be able to apply for a discretionary housing payment to help you pay this shortfall.
The date benefit is to be paid from
The letter should state the date that you will be paid benefit from. This is usually paid from the Monday after:
- you asked the council for a form to claim housing benefit (provided you returned it, properly completed, within 1 month)
- your entitlement to income support, jobseeker’s allowance, employment and support allowance or pension credit begins
If you make your claim as soon as you move in, you can usually get housing benefit from the date your tenancy starts.
Details of what to do if you disagree with the decision
The letter should tell you what to do if you do not agree with the decision and the time limits for challenging the decision (see below).
I’m still not sure what it all means
If there is anything in the letter that you are not sure about, you can ask the housing benefit department to explain it in more detail. This is called asking for a ‘statement of reasons’.
If you want to ask for a ‘statement of reasons’ you must do so:
- by letter, and
- within 1 month of the date of the decision letter.
I don’t agree with the letter – can I do anything?
If there is something in the letter that you do not agree with, or you think that there has been a mistake, you can ask the council to have another look at their decision. This is called asking for a ‘reconsideration’ or an ‘appeal’.
An appeal or reconsideration request must be made within one month of the date of decision. Take a look at our page on ‘Challenging a housing benefit decision‘ for more details.
An adviser from Shelter Cymru may be able to check the decision to see if it is correct. They will also be able to help you challenge the council if the decision is not correct.