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Housing Benefits


Housing Benefit helps you pay your rent if you are on a low income. The amount of housing benefit you get is worked out by looking at:

  • How much money you have coming in;
  • Your circumstances and the amount of rent you have to pay
  • The amount of savings you have. You need to have less than £16,000 savings to qualify. But you may have more savings than this and still get Housing Benefit if you or your partner get the guaranteed part of Pension Credit

Use our Benefit Calculator to see what help you can get.

Who is Housing Benefit for?

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Housing Benefit is for:

  • People who pay rent, and have a low income, including those who work or are self-employed.
  • Tenants living in a council property, housing association property, privately rented property (the allowance for these tenants is known as Local Housing Allowance and the rates are set separately) and hostels.

You can’t get housing benefit if:

  • You own your own home and pay a mortgage
  • Have a higher income
  • Have more than £16,000 in savings (unless you claim guaranteed pension credit)

If you think you fit our criteria use our Benefit Calculator to see what help you can get. If you rent privately please check your Local Housing Allowance before using the Benefit Calculator.

Apply for Housing Benefit

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To apply for housing benefit fill in our Housing Benefit Application Form, call 01622 602557, or visit our reception to get a form.

You need to send evidence in with your claim. If you do not have all the evidence you can send the form in first and then send the rest of the evidence later.

If you are making a new claim for Jobseeker's Allowance, Income Support or Employment and Support Allowance through the Jobcentre, they will take all the details for your housing benefit and pass them on to us - you do not need to make a separate claim.

Evidences Required

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If you're submitting a new claim we'll need to see the original copy of your ID. This can be your driving licence, passport or birth certificate, which you can either send or bring to our temporary reception.

Other documents can be sent to us electronically using our online form. You'll also need your National Insurance number and your benefit reference number to complete the form. It's starts with a 5 can be found any benefits letter we've sent you.

You can also send photocopies of all the documents other than your ID by post to:

Benefits
Maidstone House
King Street
Maidstone
Kent
ME15 6JQ

Evidence you need to provide

  • National Insurance numbers for you and your partner. Your partner needs to be someone you’re married to or living with as though you’re married.
  • Identity for you and your partner. For example a passport or driving licence.
  • Capital, savings and investments, including all bank and building society current and savings accounts.
  • Earnings of everyone living with you, including your partner and anyone else over 18.
  • Any other income.
  • Benefits, allowances or pensions.
  • Proof of rent liability (tenancy agreement).

If you don’t get the evidence to us within a month we may not be able to pay you any benefit. Just tell us if you’re having problems getting your evidence together and we can help. Email benefits@maidstone.gov.uk or call 01622 602557.

Appeal a Decision

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If you're not satisfied with our decision or how we have explained our decision, you can appeal.

You must appeal in writing and send your appeal to:

Benefits
Maidstone House
King Street
Maidstone
Kent
ME15 6JQ

You need to make it clear which decision you are appealing against and your reasons why. You need to do this within a month of the decision you are appealing against.

We will write to let you know the decision made after receiving your appeal. If you still do not agree with our decision your appeal will be heard by a tribunal run by the Independent Tribunals Service.

Overpayments

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An overpayment happens when we pay you or your landlord an amount of Housing Benefit which you weren’t entitled to. If we have paid you too much benefit, we will usually ask you to pay back the amount we have overpaid.

You need to tell us of any changes in your circumstances, to prevent any overpayments.

We will send you a letter giving you the full details of the overpayment. The letter will tell you why the overpayment happened, the amount you were overpaid and the period of the overpayment. It will also tell you how we intend to recover the overpayment and what to do if you disagree.

How is the overpayment paid back?

  • If you are still getting Housing Benefit, we may reduce your payments to recover the overpayment
  • If we are not paying your Housing Benefit, we may send you a bill and you should make arrangements to pay us
  • If we paid your landlord your benefit then, in certain circumstances, we may ask the landlord to repay the overpayment
  • We can ask your employer to set up an attachment to your earnings
  • We can ask the Department for Works and Pensions to take money out of other benefits you might receive to collect the overpayment
  • In cases where you have moved out of the area, we can take money from any housing benefit paid to you by another council
  • You may be sent a bill. You will be able to pay online or by calling our automated payments line on 01622 602544 and choosing option 5

Local Housing Allowance

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What is Local Housing Allowance?

If you are a tenant renting a property or room from a private landlord and you are on a low income, you may be able to claim and receive Local Housing Allowance (LHA).

The LHA rate that applies to you will last for one year.

How do I find out my LHA rate?

The weekly LHA Rates are:

Number of Bedrooms Maidstone Medway/Swale

Shared Room Rate

£70.33

£67.63

One Bedroom

£127.29

£110.67

Two Bedrooms

£157.56

£138.08

Three Bedrooms

£180.45

£157.61

Four Bedrooms

£235.41

£204.05

There are two areas for people that live in Maidstone. They are ‘Maidstone’ and ‘Medway/Swale’.

To find out which area applies to you enter your post code on the GOV.uk website.

If you are single, under 35 and living alone you are entitled to LHA at the shared room rate even if you may be living in a one-bedroom property.

When working out what your LHA is you can claim one bedroom for:

  • Each couple
  • Two children of the same sex under 16
  • Two children under 10 regardless of sex
  • Other person aged 16 or over
  • An external overnight carer (evidence will need to be provided for this)

Extra Bedroom Discount

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From 1 April 2013 if you are of working age, in a housing association owned property and have one or more ‘spare’ bedrooms, your Housing Benefit may be reduced.

You will be affected if:

  • You are of working age (which is from the age of 16 until you receive your state pension)
  • You get any Housing Benefit, even if it’s a small amount

You won’t be affected if:

  • You or your partner have received your state pension
  • You part-own the property under a shared ownership lease
  • You have been placed in temporary accommodation by us under the homelessness legislation of the Housing Act 1996

What is classed as a ‘spare’ bedroom?

The new rules mean that a bedroom will be classed as ‘spare’ unless it is being used by:

  • An adult couple
  • Any other person aged 16 or over
  • Two children of the same sex under the age of 16
  • Two children under the age of ten regardless of their sex
  • Any other child
  • A carer (who does not normally live with you) if you or your partner need overnight care
  • A foster child

Foster children do not count as part of your household when calculating your benefit award.

It does not matter how the ‘spare’ bedroom is used, the new rules will apply even if:

  • You and your partner need to sleep apart because of a medical condition
  • Your children mainly live at another address, but you have a spare room for when they stay with you

What if you or your partner has a disability?

The only time that housing benefit may be paid for a ‘spare’ bedroom due to you or your partner’s disability is where:

  • You have a carer who lives elsewhere, and
  • You or your partner receive the middle or high rate care as part of the of Disability Living Allowance and need overnight care
  • The carer uses the extra bedroom to stay overnight on a regular basis to provide care for you or your partner

What if I have a disabled child?

If your child is receiving the middle or high rate of care as part of their Disability Living Allowance and has a medical condition that, in the opinion of a doctor, makes it impossible for them to share a room with another child then an additional room may be allowed.

How much will you lose?

If you have one spare bedroom your housing benefit will be cut by 14% each week. If you have two or more spare bedrooms your housing benefit will be cut by 25% each week.

Where your benefit has been cut it will be up to you to pay the difference to stop you getting behind with your rent payments. You will need to make the payments direct to your landlord.

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