Making a claim
You can claim housing benefit to help pay your rent if you have a low income. You can claim if you are in work or not working. You can claim direct from the council or when making a new claim for other benefits.
Always follow the rules in our checklist when making a claim for benefits.
How do I make a claim?
There are a number of ways of applying for housing benefit, depending on whether you are also claiming other benefits at the same time:
Applying for housing benefit on it’s own
If you just want to apply for housing benefit, you should contact your local council. You can find the contact number in the phone book or put in your postcode here to be directed to the right council’s website.
Fill in the form online or ask the council to send you out a form to complete and return.
Applying for housing benefit at the same time as other benefits
You can make a claim for housing benefit at the same time as applying for other benefits, such as employment support allowancs (ESA), income-based jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) or income support (IS).
Contact Jobcentre Plus on 0800 055 6688 to make a claim. Jobcentre Plus will normally forward your housing benefit claim to your council. The council may ask you for further information to help it process the claim.
Applying for housing benefit at the same time as pension credit
You can claim housing benefit at the same time as claiming pension credit.
Contact the Pension Service on 0800 99 1234 to make a claim. The Pension Service will normally forward your housing benefit claim to your council. The council may ask you for further information to help it process the claim.
If you’re claiming universal credit
If you’re claiming universal credit, help towards your housing costs will be included as part of your claim, so a separate claim for housing benefit won’t be needed.
How do I fill in the form?
When you are filling in the form, try to give as much information as possible. Be honest – if you lie or withhold information you could end up being paid too much benefit and having to pay it back at a later date. You could even be prosecuted.
If you are having problems completing a form, get help. Help is available from Citizens Advice, your local council or other local advice centre.
Why do they ask so many questions?
Everyone’s circumstances are different. It is difficult to have one form that will ask each person the right questions for their situation.
The housing benefit department also wants to get as clear a picture as possible of your financial situation so they can work out how much benefit you will be entitled to.
Remember to answer every question, or the department will send the form back to you, which will cause delay.
What information do I need to provide?
When you answer a question on the claim form, it will tell you whether you need to back this up with information. Download our checklist of things that the housing benefit department might want to see. They will want to see all original documents.
If you cannot find all the information required, hand the form in to the council anyway. You have 28 days to submit all your information.
The council will write to you if they need any more information. It is really important that you provide the information they ask for within the time limit that they give you, normally a calendar month in the first request. If you are having difficulty providing the information, contact the housing benefit department and explain the problem. If you don’t provide the information, they will probably write to you to say that they will make a decision that you are not entitled to benefit. You have the right to challenge such a decision, and should get advice straight away if you get a letter like this.
Where do I send the form?
The council form should normally go to your local council office.
If you have a council claim form, it will tell you the address on the form. Otherwise, click here to search for the correct address on the council’s website.
Can I post the form?
You can post the form, but be aware that :
- you will not have a record that you posted it and you will have to send your original documents through the mail (things like passports and birth certificates are expensive to replace)
- there is a possibility that your form and documents could get lost either in the post or in the council offices.
If possible, you should hand the form in to the council offices yourself and get a receipt. If this is not possible, you may want to send it by recorded delivery. You should keep a record of the date that you sent the form and details of any information you included.
Remember, housing benefit is usually paid from the Monday after your claim gets there. If your form goes missing, you could end up having to pay the rent yourself, as it will be your word against the council’s that you posted the form.
Can I hand the form in myself?
Yes. This is the safest way to deliver your form. If you cannot go yourself, someone else can go for you. Even if there is a queue, you should wait and get a receipt for the form and any information you have provided. Ask for your documents to be photocopied there and then, so you can take the originals home with you.
Keep your receipt in a safe place. If the council misplaces your form after you have handed it in, you will need your receipt as evidence that you did hand it in.