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Assessments and Terms explained

Information about how your claim is assessed and explanations of terms used.

We will send you Housing and/or Council Tax Reduction 'decision notices' showing how much benefit you're to receive and how your benefit has been calculated (See below for explanatory notes).

This is how we 'pay' benefit :-

  1. Council Tax Reduction will normally show as a reduction on your council tax bill. You will get a bill showing how much Council Tax you have to pay, less any Council Tax Reduction, and what (if any) is left to pay.
  2. Housing Benefit - Local Authority Tenants:  Housing Benefit is offset against the rent due on your Housing  Rent Account.  The Housing Rent department will tell you what rent is left to pay.
  3. Housing Benefit - Private Tenants (including tenants of housing associations):  Payment is made by electronic transfer (BACS) directly into your bank account (or your landlord's bank account if we have agreed to pay them direct). Payments to tenants are made 2 weekly in arrears.  Payments to landlords are made 4 weekly in arrears.

Statement Terms Explained

Shown below are some helpful explanatory notes regarding some of the terms used in benefits.

ELIGIBLE RENT/COUNCIL TAX

This is always shown as a weekly amount even if you make payments at a different frequency e.g. monthly.  The amount that has been used in your benefit calculation is sometimes less than the actual amount you have to pay.  This may be due to service charges being included in your rent which are ineligible for Housing Benefit.

Rent is restricted if the house you live in is considered to be too large for your needs or expensive in comparison to similar properties in the area.

If you rent from the council, or a Housing Association, the amount of Housing Benefit you get may be reduced if you have a "spare" bedroom in your property.  We look at how many bedrooms your property has and how many bedrooms you need.  If you have more bedrooms than you need, these are "spare".  If you have 1 "spare" bedroom, the level of rent used to work out your weekly entitlement is reduced by 14%.  If you have 2 or more "spare" bedrooms, the reduction is 25%.

How do you work out how many bedrooms I need?

This depends on the number of people living in your household. You are allowed to a bedroom for:

  • a single person or couple (married or unmarried)
  • any other person aged 16 or over (this may include adult son or daughter)
  • any two children of the same sex aged under 16
  • any two children aged under 10
  • any other child
  • a non-resident carer who stays overnight in certain circumstances
  • in certain circumstances a severely disabled child who gets DLA where they are unable to share a bedroom

If your Housing Benefit is being restricted due to having a spare bedroom(s) you can get help with looking for smaller properties - Homeswap-Mutual-Exchange

BENEFIT

This is the weekly amount you are entitled to, based on the eligible rent/council tax figure shown.

WHAT DO I HAVE TO PAY?

You will need to pay the difference between the amount of Housing Benefit you get and your rent.

APPLICABLE AMOUNTS

These are set amounts set by Government to cover your living costs.  Benefits can not be calculated by taking individual's outgoings into account.

INCOME

All income is shown as weekly amounts regardless of the frequency that it is received.  The figures shown are calculated from the information you provided with your claim. Please check it carefully.

If you have earnings, the amount shown is the sum remaining after deducting income tax, national insurance and half of any pension contributions you pay.  Any other income(s) or benefit(s) are usually taken into account in full but see disregards below.

DISREGARDS

The following amounts are disregarded from earnings in the calculation of HB if you are employed (for Council Tax Reduction the disregard is £25.00):

  • £5.00 on a single persons claim.
  • £10.00 on a claim from a couple.
  • £20.00 in some cases if the claim is from a couple and one of them receives disablement benefits or if earnings are from a special occupation, e.g. Fireman.
  • £25.00 on a single parent claim.

The following incomes or benefits are also disregarded in full in the calculation:

  • Child Benefit
  • Child maintenance
  • War pension
  • War widows pension
  • Attendance allowance
  • Disability living allowance/Personal Independence Payments
  • Mobility allowance

CAPITAL/SAVINGS

We need to see how much capital you have.  Usually, if you have more than £16,000 (£6,000 for Council Tax Reduction), you are not entitled to any benefit.  Capital includes money in bank accounts, ISA's, shares, bonds and property.

OTHER PEOPLE IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD

See link about Non-Dependants on our Benefits home page.

THE CALCULATION OF BENEFIT

These are the components of the calculation of benefit

  • Eligible weekly rent / eligible weekly council tax
  • Weekly income (calculated according to the Regulations)
  • An 'applicable amount' for your household (ie. the amount you need to live on each week, calculated according to the Regulations)
  • An amount for each 'non-dependant' (calculated according to the Regulations)

You will not get benefit equal to your weekly rent / council tax if

  • we have restricted the amount of your rent eligible for benefit
  • your total calculated weekly income is more than your weekly applicable amount
  • you have a non-dependant in your home for whom we have to make a deduction

Otherwise, if your income is the same as or less than your applicable amount, you will get maximum benefit.

For every £1 that your weekly income exceeds your applicable amount, benefit reduces by 65p per week (council tax by 20p), until the point is reached where income is high enough for there to be no entitlement at all.

Updated: 8 Jul 2015
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