Northumberland County Council > Housing > Housing benefits > Contacts and useful informatio

Contacts and useful information

also known as: Contact housing benefits, Redundancy and benefits.

Find out how to contact us and where to get more information, help and advice

You can contact a benefit officer by:

You can also talk to a benefit advisor for help and advice at one of our benefit offices, or we may be able to arrange for someone to come to your home if you can’t visit an office yourself.

If you require a private interview with a benefit assessor, please contact us to make an appointment at your local office.

If you find it difficult to access our benefit officers, we have Visiting Officers that may be able to visit your home to help you complete forms or offer advice. Please contact us for further details.

Office locations

Our benefit offices are open Monday to Friday 9am-5pm (excluding bank holidays) unless otherwise indicated.

Alnwick

  • Location: Greenwell Lane, Alnwick, NE66 1HB, view location map
  • Facilities: A benefit assessor is available all day Wednesdays or by appointment only, disabled access, private interview rooms, seating

Amble

  • Location: Amble Library, Middleton Street, Amble, NE65 0ET, view location map
  • Facilities: A benefit assessor is available Wednesday morning only from 10am to 1pm, disabled access, private interview rooms, seating

Ashington

  • Location: Wansbeck Square, Ashington, NE63 9XL, view location map

  • Facilities: benefit assessor available, fast-track appointments, disabled access, private interview rooms, seating, hearing loop.

Bedlington

  • Location: Front Street West, Bedlington, NE22 5TU, view location map
  • Facilities: benefit assessor available, fast-track appointments, disabled access, private interview rooms, seating, hearing loop.

Berwick

  • Location: Wallace Green, Berwick-Upon-Tweed, TD15 1ED, view location map
  • Facilities: benefit assessor available, fast-track appointments, private interview rooms, seating

Blyth

  • Location: Unit 10, Keel Row Centre, Blyth, NE24 1AH, view location map
  • Facilities: benefit assessor available, fast-track appointments, disabled access, toilet facilities, disabled toilet facilities, private interview rooms, seating, hearing loop, appointment scheme

Cramlington

  • Location: Forum Way, Cramlington, NE23 6YB, view location map
  • Facilities: benefit assessor available, fast-track appointments, disabled access, private interview rooms, seating, hearing loop

Hexham

  • Location: Hadrian House, Market Street, Hexham, NE46 3NH, view location map
  • Facilities: benefit assessor available, fast-track appointments, disabled access, hearing loops, private interview rooms, seating

Prudhoe

  • Location: 1st Floor, Spetchells Centre, 58 Front Street, Prudhoe, NE42 5AA, view location map
  • Facilities: benefit assessor available Monday to Friday between 9am-12.30pm and 1.30- 4.30pm, fast-track appointments, disabled access, lift, private interview room, seating, toilet facilities, disabled toilet facilities

You may drop off benefit forms and information required to support your claim at any of the following sites where it will be forwarded to the Benefit Section at Wansbeck Square, Ashington:

  • Morpeth, Gas House Lane, Morpeth, NE61 1TA
  • Seaton Delaval, Astley High School, Elsdon Avenue, Seaton Delaval, Whitley Bay, NE25 0BW
  • County Hall, Morpeth, NE61 2EF

We are committed to providing a high quality benefits service. Our mission statement is:

'To provide a high quality and efficient benefit service that meets the expectations of the residents of Northumberland'

Please have a look at our Benefit Service Standards leaflet.

Service Standards

The standards of service we aim to provide to all of our customers are detailed below. They will be reviewed and updated (if necessary) on an annual basis:

We aim to:

Process new benefit claims on average in 20 days or less;

Process changes in circumstance on average in 8 days or less;

Reply to all requests for a revision or reconsideration within 14 days;

Refer all benefit appeals to Her Majesty's Court & Tribunal Service within 1 month;

Reply to complaints in line with the Council’s Complaints procedure;

  • 2014/2015 Qtr 2 = No data available at present

Useful information

If you have any queries regarding your housing benefit, please have a look at the information below, but don’t hesitate to contact us if you still need help or advice.

If your job finishes due to redundancy or a voluntary severance scheme you may need to claim social security benefits.

Payments you get from your employer in these situations may affect benefits.

Benefit rules are complicated and we always recommend that you seek independent advice.

The Money Advice Service has produced a really useful Redundancy Handbook which you can download and read. Alternatively, you can pick up a copy from our Customer Information Centres.

If you are already claiming housing benefit and need additional financial help, there are a number of different ways we may be able to help through Crisis Support or Discretionary Housing Payments.

Crisis Support (NET's)

Northumberland Emergency Transition Support, otherwise known as NET's provides crisis support to residents of Northumberland. NET’s is delivered as a partnership between Five Lamps, Dawn (advice) Ltd and Voices Northumberland.

We provide crisis support in the following ways:

Emergency Support

  • To help meet your immediate short term needs for goods or services that arise because of a disaster or unforeseen circumstance.
  • Awards are only available for: food, baby consumables, clothing, heating and travel and for a maximum of 7 days support.

Community Grant or Loan

  • To help you remain in the community or move back into the community after a period in supported or unsettled accommodation.
  • Awards are only available for: beds/ bedding, furniture, white goods, kitchen equipment, floor coverings, curtains, travel and storage/ removal costs.

How to apply for Crisis Support:

  • Freephone: 0300 303 1931

Opening times:

  • Mon-Thur 8.30am – 5pm
  • Friday 8.30am-4.30pm
  • Lines closed weekends and bank holidays. Text Phone: 07739 324 083.

Visit the Five Lamps website or dawn advice website for more information

Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) are additional payments for people currently receiving Housing Benefit who require further financial assistance with their housing costs.

If you are already getting all of your rent paid by Housing Benefit you cannot get Discretionary Housing Payments.

A discretionary housing payment may be used to pay for:

  • your rent where it has been restricted by the Rent Officer and your Housing Benefit award is less than the rent charged
  • reductions in your Housing Benefit entitlement following changes to the Local Housing Allowance from April 2011
  • increases in essential work related expenditure, such as increased fares to work if you have had to move because you could no longer afford to live near your work following a reduction in your Local Housing Allowance rate
  • a rent deposit or rent in advance for a property that you are yet to move into if you are already entitled to Housing Benefit for your present home

Please note: that these are only examples of when we may pay a Discretionary Housing Payment. If your circumstances are different you should still apply.

We cannot give Discretionary Housing Payments towards:

  • ineligible service charges
  • increases in rent due to outstanding arrears
  • reductions in any benefit as a result of Jobseeker’s sanctions, Child Support sanctions or sanctions following certain benefit related offences
  • suspended Housing Benefit
  • rent, when you are getting Council Tax Support but not Housing benefit
  • shortfalls caused by overpayment recovery

How to apply for a DHP

How much could you receive?

How much we give you depends on your circumstances but we cannot guarantee we will definitely give you a payment. We look at each case individually and will look at the following things when we make a decision:

  • Your income
  • Your savings
  • If anyone else in your house can help you
  • If you have any loans or debts
  • If you could manage your money better
  • If you or anyone in your family is ill or disabled
  • If you have tried to put the situation right yourself

Please note: for housing benefit, we cannot give you more than your total rent (less amounts for services such as electricity or water).

If you disagree with our decision

Decisions on claims for Discretionary Housing Payments are not subject to appeals to the Appeals Service. If you disagree with the decision on your claim for a Discretionary Housing Payment you should write to the council and the decision will be reviewed by a different officer.

Change of circumstances

You should tell us immediately if your circumstances change. If the change means we have to reduce your Discretionary Housing Payment, you might have to pay back some or all of the payment we have already paid you.

Please also have a look at our Discretionary Housing Payment Policy and Discretionary Housing Payment FAQs

Help with managing your money and debt

If you are concerned about managing your money or you have debts, try not to worry, but do not ignore your problem – it will not go away. If you cannot pay your rent because of money problems you may be evicted from your home. You must ask for help.

Money Advice Service

The Money Advice Service provides a financial health check service. This can help you work out your financial priorities and make decisions about your money.

They also have a Budget Calculator to help you to think about your spending and to work out whether you have enough money coming in to cover your outgoings.

For more information visit the Money Advice Service website here or phone 0300 500 5000.

 

Step Change Debt Charity

Step Change Debt Charity (previously Consumer Credit Counselling Service) provides free expert debt advice over the phone. Everything is free and confidential, from budgeting advice to practical Debt Management Plans. This service is available to everyone in the UK

For more information visit the stepchange website or phone: 0800 138 1111.

 

Citizens Advice

Citizens Advice offer advice on debt problems and a very wide range of other money and non-money topics.

For more information visit the Citizens Advice website here or phone 08444 111 444.

 

Dawn Advice

Dawn Advice is a member of the Citizens Advice Service and provide free, independent and confidential debt advice to anyone living in the North East

For more information, visit the Dawn Advice website or phone 0300 3031931.

 

National Debtline

This is a telephone-based service and is a national helpline for people with debt problems in England, Wales and Scotland. They will discuss debt problems with you and explain the options available to you.

For more information, visit the National Debtline website or phone 0808 808 4000.

 

Payplan

Payplan provide free debt advice and management.

For more information, visit the Payplan website here or phone 0808 271 3728  (mobile calls may be cheaper on 0203 051 1297).

 

Age UK

Age UK provides information on income and benefits for older people.

For more information visit the Age UK website or phone 0800 169 6565.

 

The Money Charity (previously known as Credit Action)

Our vision is for everyone be on top of their money as a part of everyday life. So, we empower people across the UK to build the skills, knowledge, attitudes and behaviours, to make the most of their money throughout their lives.

For more details visit The Money Charity website here or phone 0207 0628933.

 

Consumer Affairs

Consumer Affairs are a not-for-profit organisation that provides free and unbiased information on debt management, credit cards, mortgages, loans, and other products, allowing you to make smarter financial decisions.

For more details visit the Consumer Affairs website here.

 

GOV.UK

Are you claiming all the benefits you are entitled to?

If you are struggling to live on the money you have or are experiencing problems with debt, you may want to think about whether you are getting all the benefits or tax credits that you are entitled to.

For more information and advice you can visit the central government money advice section on Gov.uk. This also has a wide range of public service information and links to other organisations which you may find useful if you are looking for help or advice.