Making a housing benefit claim

Find out if you could get help with your rent and how to apply for housing benefit.

Housing benefit can help you pay your rent if you are on a low income.

You can claim housing benefit if:
  • you pay rent and your income/capital are below a certain level
  • you are on income support, jobseekers' allowance, employment support allowance
  • you receive pension credit
You could also qualify if you are out of work, in work and earning a wage, or self-employed. The scheme applies to:
  • anyone paying rent
  • tenants in a council property
  • hostels and housing association accommodation
You can use our benefits calculator to give you an instant estimate of what you could claim. Please remember the calculator is only an estimate and we cannot guarantee this is the exact amount you would receive.

The following will be required:
  • details of your income
  • details of your capital (bank/savings accounts)
  • the amount of rent you pay
  • the amount of council tax you pay
The allowance for privately rented accommodation is called local housing allowance and the rates are set separately. This is based on how many bedrooms your household needs.

You can view the rates for the Northumberland area (1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020) here

You can view the rates for the Northumberland area (1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019) here


If you are already claiming benefits
If you claim income support, income based jobseekers' allowance or income-related employment support allowance, the Department for Work and Pensions will take details of your claim. If you claim pension credit, the pension service will take those details.

If you are not claiming any other benefits
You can request a housing benefit application form over the telephone, or download a housing benefit claim form here and post it to us, or collect a claim form from one of our customer information centres. The Benefit Department contact details are as follows:

The Benefit Section
Northumberland County Council
Wansbeck Square
NE63 9XL

Telephone: 0345 600 6400

Original documentary evidence is required to support your claim – we cannot accept photocopies and we need to see documents for both claimants and, if applicable, partners.

Help to complete your form
You can visit a benefit officer in your local office if you require assistance with your form, or if you are unable to visit our offices you can contact us on 0345 600 6400 to make an appointment for a visiting officer. 

When your benefit will start
If you qualify for housing benefit or council tax support (or both), we will normally pay your benefit on the Monday after you asked us for an application form, if the application has been returned within one month of contact.

If there is a reason that has prevented you from applying sooner, you can ask for this to be backdated.

Good cause is a reason that prevented you from claiming benefit earlier. We look at each cause individually, and may include the following:
  • You were ill and no-one else could claim for you.
  • You were waiting for a decision on other benefits.
  • You were given incorrect advice by an official organisation.
  • You did not understand you could claim because of your age.
  • You have language difficulties.
  • You have difficulty understanding technical documents.
  • You did not claim immediately after leaving hospital, prison or long-term care.
  • You were not able to manage your own affairs and received no help.
  • A close relative died.
These examples are a guide only and are not a list of all possible reasons. If you forgot to claim, or did not know how to, this would not be a valid reason on its own.
If you think you have good cause, please contact us immediately on 0345 600 6400 or by downloading and completing the backdated request form

Proof of income, savings and rent payments will be required for the period of backdating, as well as any proof to support your reasons.
We will make the decision on backdated claims based on the information provided, then will write to you and inform you of the decision. If we decide not to backdate, we will tell you why.

If you do not agree with a decision, contact us and ask us to review this again. This must be done within one month of the decision letter.

You can also ask for a written statement from us, which will give you more information. If you are still not satisfied, you can appeal to us in writing. Please also have a look at our backdating factsheet
There are different ways in which you can appeal.

 You can:
  • ask us to explain our decision (statement of reason)
  • ask us to look at your claim again (revision or reconsideration)
  • appeal against our decision
Only a person affected by our decision can appeal. This includes:
  • the claimant
  • a court-appointed person acting on behalf of the claimant
  • someone who the council agrees is appointed to act on behalf of the claimant
  • a landlord – but only in matters relating to who payment of benefits is to be made
  • an agent – but only in matters relating to who payment of benefits is to be made
  • any person from who it is determined an overpayment is to be recovered
Please also have a look at our appeals factsheet.
A person affected can ask us to provide a written statement of reason explaining how we reached our decision. This should be requested within one month of the date the decision was made.

The statement of reason does not affect your right to appeal. We aim to provide a statement within 14 days, so far as this is practicable. 
We will review the decision regarding a claim to ensure this has been done correctly. Requests for revision are to be made either in writing, or by completing a revision request form, and must be made within one month of the decision notice.

The decision will be reviewed by a new officer. After reconsideration, we will write to the person affected as to whether the decision has changed. We may request further information before a final decision is made.

This information must be provided within one month of request. We aim to provide a reply within 14 days, so far as this is practicable.
If you still do not agree with our decision, you may be able to appeal to Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service, who are independent of the council and Department of Work and Pensions.

A judge will look at your case and make a decision. The request must be made in writing and must be received by us within one month of the date on the decision notification letter:

Benefit Section
Northumberland County Council
Wansbeck Square
NE63 9XL
Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service will write to you with details of the hearing. You will be asked if you want to attend, or whether you would prefer the tribunal to consider their case in your absence; this is called a ‘paper hearing’. If you, or the council, feel this decision is wrong in law, they can seek leave to appeal to the upper tribunal.

Important note
The amount of benefit payable is a matter between the council and claimant. Only the tenant can ask the council to review the amount of benefit payable. If the council reduces a tenant’s benefit to recover overpayment in respect of a previous address, the landlord cannot appeal against this.
It is crucial you inform of us of any changes in circumstances – yours or a member of your household’s.

You should do this within one month of the change to ensure you don’t lose money you are entitled to, or receive too much money you will have to pay back.

You must notify us of your change in writing in one of the following ways:

By post
Download a change in circumstances form here and post the completed form to the address below.

If you receive Housing Benefit from Northumberland Council and are moving within the Northumberland area you can download a change of address form here if you wish to continue claiming Housing Benefit at your new address and post the completed form to the address below.

Benefit Section
Northumberland County Council
Wansbeck Square
NE63 9XL

In person
Visit one of our customer information centres where you can notify us of your change.

It is important you provide us with the original evidence that supports your change in circumstances where appropriate, for example, pay slips, bank statements or birth certificates.

If you require further help or information, please phone 0345 600 6400 (charged at your local rate).
You may use our benefits calculator to see how your change in circumstances may affect your benefit.

Changes to your income
You need to tell us if:

  • you, or anyone living with you, gets a job (regardless of working hours), changes their job, or leaves their job
  • ​you start or stop getting income support, jobseekers' allowance, employment support allowance
  • you start or stop getting tax credits
  • the money you or your partner gets increases or decreases
  • the money non-dependants get increases or decreases
  • there are any other changes in the money people in your home get

Changes in your home
You need to tell us if:

  • you change your address
  • the number of people in your home changes
  • anyone moves into or out of your home (including lodgers/sub-tenants)
  • ​your rent changes, your landlord changes, or moves

Other changes
You need to tell us if:

  • you, or your partner, go into hospital for more than six weeks
  • you, or your partner, become a student, or stop being a student
  • the amount of savings or capital you have changes
  • ​any of your children leave school or home
  • someone starts to receive Universal Credit

In all cases, it is your duty to notify us of any changes in your circumstances. Do not rely on someone else to pass the message on.

People who deliberately claim benefits they are not entitled to are committing a criminal offence. If a landlord, who is paid housing benefit directly, fails to notify the council their tenant has left the property, they may be committing benefit fraud.