Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Housing Benefit

People on low incomes and low savings are given Housing Benefit to help pay their rent. It is assessed based on income, savings and the number of people within the household. There is a maximum amount of benefit which a person can receive.

Local Housing Allowance

Local Housing Allowance applies to new claims for Housing Benefit received after 7 April 2008 from tenants who rent from a private landlord. It also affects tenants who are already getting Housing Benefit and who moved into accommodation which they rent from a private landlord on or after 7 April 2008 or if they have a break in their current claim.

 Local Housing Allowance does not affect:

  • council tenants
  • tenants of registered social landlords
  • some supported housing

Council Tax Reduction

People with low income and low savings may be entitled to Council Tax Reduction to pay their Council Tax. This is not awarded on either the water or sewerage element of your Council Tax bill. 

Second Adult Rebate

Second Adult Rebate is for people who do not get help with their Council Tax but who have other people living with them who are on low income. The person liable for Council Tax must apply.  Any award is paid directly into the Council Tax account and a reduced bill will be issued.

How to apply for Housing/Council Tax Reduction

You must complete an application form. Once you have filled in the form, send it back to East Ayrshire Council's Revenues and Benefits Section or hand it in to your nearest local office. You will also need to provide proof of your income and identity.

You should return the form as soon as possible, if you delay returning the form you may lose benefit.

If you claim Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment Support Allowance you may be given a Housing and Council Tax Reduction Claim form (HCTB1) by the Department for Work and Pensions. If this is the case you should complete the form and return it to the Department for Work and Pensions who will pass it to us.

If you claim Universal Credit you may be given a Council Tax Reduction form by the Job Centre.  If this is the case you should complete the form and return it to East Ayrshire Council's Revenues and Benefits Section or hand it in to your nearest local office.

If you claim Pension Credit you may be given a Housing and Council Tax Reduction claim form by the Pension Service. If this is the case you should complete the form and return it to the Pension Service who will in turn pass it to us.

Housing Benefit is subject to strict controls to ensure that it is only paid to those who are entitled to it. This means that verification of information is vital and all documents must be original, photocopies cannot be accepted. You can take your original documents to any local office where they will be copied, verified and returned to you. If you do not provide original documents your benefit cannot be paid.

We accept proof such as birth certificate, passport, National Insurance card, medical card or driving licence.

Your National Insurance number can be verified using your National Insurance card or official documents such as wage slips, letters from Department for Work and Pensions or tax office.

If you do not have all of the evidence required for your application you should still submit your form, otherwise you may lose out on benefit. Benefit is generally awarded from the Monday following the date we receive your claim. You should note on your application what you are waiting for and when it is expected.

Once you have supplied all the information required to process your application, your claim should be assessed within 14 days. It may take longer if we have to write to you to provide us with further details.

Income Support and Job Seeker's Allowance

The Department for Work and Pensions pay Income Support to people on low incomes who are unable to work. Anyone who works less than 16 hours per week or has little or no income may also get it, as long as they meet certain criteria.

Jobseeker’s Allowance is paid to people who are not currently working but are looking for work.

There are two types of Jobseeker’s Allowance; income-based (IB) and contribution-based (CB):

  • Income-based - we will not need any other details about your income
  • Contribution-based - we will need to know about your income and savings  

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

This is a new benefit which replaces Incapacity Benefit and Income Support for people who are sick or disabled. This benefit was introduced on 27 October 2008. There are two parts of ESA:

  • income-related
  • contributory

People who are already getting Incapacity Benefit or Income Support for incapacity for work will continue to receive these benefits until they are transferred to ESA.

Tax credits

Tax credits are paid by HM Revenue and Customs and can be used to top up your income. You may qualify for tax credits if you have children, or are working and on a low income or both. You can claim tax credits by contacting HM Revenue & Customs.

Pension credits

Pension credit is a payment The Pension Service makes to people on low incomes, or who have a small amount of savings or a private pension or both. You can apply for Pension Credit if you are 60 or over.

There are two types of Pension Credit – Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit. If you are 60 to 64 and are entitled to Pension Credit, you will get Guarantee Credit. If you are over 65, you may get Guarantee Credit or Savings Credit or both. 

Council Tax discount

As well as Council Tax Reduction and Second Adult Rebate, we can reduce your Council Tax with:

  • discounts
  • exemptions
  • reductions for people with disabilities

You can get Council Tax discount of 25% if you are the only adult living in a property. We disregard some adults when we look at the number of adults living in a property to award a discount.

Examples of adults who are disregarded are:

  • full-time students
  • people with severe mental impairment
  • carers
  • some 18 and 19 year olds for whom you receive child benefit
  • people in prison

When a property is empty, there may be a time when it is exempt from Council Tax. This means that nobody is responsible for paying Council Tax for that property. Certain properties may also be exempt even when people are living in them, for example, if all the residents are full-time students.

If a disabled person living in the property has to use a wheelchair indoors or has an extra room because of their needs, we may reduce their Council Tax.

Council Tax exemption

You will need to complete a form to make application for one of these reductions:

  • Council Tax discounts
  • Council Tax exemptions
  • Disabled banding reductions

Housing Benefit for students

Most full-time students cannot claim Housing Benefit. However there are some groups who may be eligible.

You may qualify if you fall into one of the eligible student groups detailed below:

  • students on Jobseeker’s Allowance (income-based) or income support
  • part-time students
  • students under 19 in further education
  • students under 20 for whom child benefit is payable
  • students aged 60 plus, or whose partners are 60 plus
  • students, couples and lone parents, who are responsible for a dependant child
  • students who qualify for a disability premium
  • students who receive short-term higher rate incapacity benefit
  • students who do not get incapacity benefit, but are incapable of work as decided by the Department for Work and Pensions
  • students who have a UK grant which includes an allowance for deafness
  • students unable to get a grant or student loan following an absence from their studies due to illness or providing care to another person

Anyone on a low income may be able to get Housing and/or Council Tax Reduction. The amount payable will depend on your income, including self employed earnings, your savings and your family circumstances.

In order to verify your self-employed earnings we will ask to see your latest accounts. If you have just started your business and you do not have accounts as yet we will ask you to complete a self employed form giving details of the income and outgoings from the business.

We will calculate your self-employed earnings based on the net profit of your business over a specified trading period.

Change in circumstances

You must inform us of your change in circumstances immediately in writing. You may still be entitled to a rebate based on your new income however you may need to complete a new application form as well as providing proof of your income. If your income has decreased you may be entitled to more benefit.

Extended payments of Housing/Council Tax Reduction

Extended payments help long-term unemployed people who find work, by giving those four weeks extra Housing and Council Tax Reduction. If you think you may be due extended payment you should contact the Department for Work and Pensions who in turn will advise us of your entitlement. In order to qualify you must have been in receipt of certain state benefits for at least 26 weeks prior to gaining employment.

When the extended payments are finished you may still qualify if you are working and on low income. To allow us to assess your entitlement you will have to complete a new application and provide details of your new income. Download a Housing and/or Council Tax Reduction Application form online.

Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs)

These are extra payments to help pay your rent. We can give DHPs to people who are claiming benefit and who need more help to meet their housing costs, if these are more than the amount of benefit they receive.

Right of appeal

You should contact us and tell us why you think our decision is wrong. You can ask us to:

  • explain our decision
  • look at it again
  • appeal against our decision

Overpayments

This is when more Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction is awarded than the person is entitled to. This can happen when we revise or supersede an award.

Fraud

If you are aware of anyone who is a benefit cheat please help us in the detection of this crime by:

  • calling the National Benefits Fraud Hotline on the freephone number below
  • visiting the Department for Work and Pensions website and reporting it online.  

The information you give will be treated in the strictest confidence.

Universal Credit

Universal Credit (UC) is paid by the DWP for certain people who are currently not working or are on a low wage.  If you are in receipt of Universal Credit we cannot pay any Housing Benefit to you as your housing costs are included with your UC payment.

 

Contact Information

Benefits Section
PO BOX 13
John Dickie Street
Kilmarnock
East Ayrshire
KA1 1BY
Telephone: 01563 554400
National Benefits Fraud Hotline
Telephone: 0800 328 6340
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