Your benefit notification letters explained
We send you a new letter every time there is a change to the amount of housing benefit and council tax support you get.
Sometimes your letter will show different amounts for different periods where your benefit has changed due to changes in your circumstances, for example if your income has gone up or down.
You need to check your letters carefully and tell us straight away if something is wrong. If you don’t, you could lose out, or could be paid too much which you’ll probably have to pay back.
Your 2017/18 housing benefit and council tax support award notifications
During March 2017 we sent out new notification letters advising how much your housing benefit and council tax support payments are from 1 April 2017. There have been some changes to the council tax support scheme from April 2017.
You can receive your future letters quicker by signing up to paperless notifications.
What you need to do
You need to carefully check each page of the letter to make sure the information we are using to work out your award is correct. This is very important as if your details are wrong and we pay you too much, we may ask you to repay any amount overpaid. If any of your details are wrong, contact us straight away.
If you pay council tax, the bill sent to you is based on this assessment and so any balance left to pay should be paid as stated on the bill. If your bill says ‘direct debit’, the instalments will be collected from your bank account.
If you rent your home from the council, your housing benefit will be credited to your rent account. If you don’t rent your home from the council we will pay any housing benefit as stated in the letter.
If something is going to change soon
Please tell us just before the change happens. You can use the online change of circumstances form to do this. We will also need to see proof of your new circumstances.
You don’t need to tell us about changes to the amount of council tax you have to pay or, if you are a council tenant, changes to your rent.
If you disagree with our decision
- What you can do if you disagree with our decision about your council tax support
- What you can do if you disagree with our decision about your housing benefit
Why we send you letters
If your council tax, rent, applicable amount or income changes in April your award is likely to be reviewed. This means that nearly everyone who gets housing benefit and/or council tax support will receive a letter at the same time. We try to keep the number of letters each person receives as low as possible (to cut down on costs and to keep things simple) but we don't always know of all the changes at the same time, and this can mean we have to send additional letters as we learn about other changes.
Council tax bills 2017/18
An explanation of some of the words in your letter
Your applicable amount is the amount of money that the government says you need to cover basic living costs each week. This doesn’t include rent and council tax and it depends on your individual circumstances. The amount changes every year with inflation.
We compare your income to your applicable amount to work out how much benefit you get. The higher your income is above your applicable amount, the less benefit you will get.
If you get Employment and Support Allowance (income-related), Income Support, Jobseeker’s allowance (income-based) or Pension Credit guaranteed credit, we don’t use an applicable amount to work out your housing benefit and council tax support.
Gross weekly income
Your gross weekly income is all the money you get per week.
Your total weekly income used is the income we use to work out how much housing benefit and council tax support you get. The higher your income is above your applicable amount, the less benefit you will get.
Disregarded income is money you get that we don’t count when we work out your benefit.
Your excess income is the amount of income you have over your applicable amount.
A non-dependant is normally any adult who lives with you who is not your partner. In some cases we make a deduction from your housing benefit and council tax support to represent the contribution the government expects them to make to your household. This is called a non-dependant deduction.
The non-dependant deduction is taken from the maximum housing benefit and council tax support before we work out how much help we can give you with the remaining amount.