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Frequently asked questions and answers

​How long does it take for a claim to be processed?

When we receive your claim form we will check the information and proof that you have provided.

You should hear from us about your claim within 10 working days of us receiving it.

If we have all the information we need to decide your claim we will be able to process your claim as quickly as possible and will write to you with the outcome.

If we need more information we will contact you and let you know what information we need. You will have one calendar month to provide us with any additional information that we request. You must tell us straight away if you cannot provide the information requested or if you are unable to provide the information by the date requested. The quicker that you provide the information asked for the quicker we will be able to process your claim.

If you do not provide the information or do not contact us to tell us that the information is not available or that there will be a delay, we will not be able to process your claim and we may decide that you do not qualify for benefit. 

Can I get help with my rent even if I work?

Yes, even if you work, if you are on a low income you may still be able to get some help to pay your rent.

We will need to see proof of your earnings and capital. You will need to provide:

  • your last five pay slips if you are paid weekly

  • your last three pay slips if you are paid fortnightly

  • your last two pay slips if you are paid monthly

  • if you have only just started work and not yet been paid, your employer can complete an earnings form to give us the information we need. Please contact us to request this. 

  • your most recent bank statements (covering the last two months)

Why do I need to keep updating Housing Benefit with proof of income?

It is very important that you let us know immediately if you have a change in your circumstances as you may receive too little or too much benefit.

By providing us with proof of your income we can ensure that you are receiving the correct amount of benefit entitlement.

For more information please view our changes of circumstances page.

Why do you need to see bank statements?

Bank statements are requested for proof of capital/assets and sometimes for proof of income as we can see the income being paid into your bank account and accept this as evidence of the income that you receive.

It depends on the amount of capital that you and your partner have as to whether it will affect your benefit entitlement.

  • if you have £16,000 or more capital/assets then you are not eligible to claim Housing Benefit

  • you can have up to £6,000 for working age and £10,000 for pension age before it will affect your benefit

  • if you are under state pension age a tariff of £1 income per week will be applied for every £250 or part of above £6,000. For example if your capital is £7,000 we will take £4 a week into account as income for your capital

  • if you are state pension age or over a tariff of £1 income per week will be applied for every £500 or part of above £10,000. For example if your capital is £11,000 we will take £2 a week into account as income for your capital

Why is my non-dependant being charged? Why are you taking a deduction for my non-dependant?

It will depend on the circumstances of your non-dependant as to if we take a deduction for them and the level of deduction that we take. The Government sets the level of non-dependant deductions, this is the amount of money per week that the non-dependant is expected to contribute towards the rent and for Council Tax Support the amount they are expected to contribute towards your council tax charge.

For further information about non-dependants including a table of deductions please visit the non-dependants webpage.

What is an extended payment and do I qualify for one?

An extended payment help people who have been unemployed for a long time, who find work by giving them an extra four weeks extra Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support. They are like an extended payment that you can get on Jobseekers Allowance or Employment Support and Allowance, sometimes you can receive both types of extended payments at the same time.

To qualify you must meet the following conditions:

  • you or any partner have started work or self-employment, or increased your hours and

  • this is expected to last at least five weeks and

  • you or your partner have been entitled to and been in receipt of Employment Support Allowance (income related), Jobseekers Allowance (income based), or Income Support continuously for at least 26 weeks (or any combination of those benefits in that period) and

  • immediately before starting the job, you were on Employment Support Allowance (income based), Jobseekers Allowance (income based) or Income Support and
  • entitlement ceases as a result of starting the job
  • or
  • you or your partner have been entitled to and in receipt of Employment Support Allowance (contribution based), Incapacity Benefit or Severe Disablement Allowance continuously for at least 26 weeks (or a combination of those benefits in that period) and
  • immediately before starting the job, you were on Employment Support Allowance (contribution based), Incapacity Benefit or Severe Disablement Allowance and
  • entitlement ceases as a result of starting the job.

I have been overpaid - how do I pay back the overpayment?

If you have been overpaid Housing Benefit we will write to you to notify you that you have been overpaid. We will provide you with details of the overpayment amount and the period that it covers. We will tell you why you have been overpaid and who the overpayment is recoverable from. We will tell you if we have decided to recover the overpayment from you.

If you have been overpaid Housing Benefit and we have told you that this is recoverable from you, if you are still in receipt of Housing Benefit, we will recover the overpaid amount from ongoing entitlement to Housing Benefit. This means that we will reduce your weekly Housing Benefit payment by a set amount each week until the overpayment has been paid back. We will write to you to let you know how much this amount will be each week and the amount that you will need to contribute towards your rent.

If you are entitled to arrears of Housing Benefit and you have an outstanding overpayment, we may use the arrears of Housing Benefit to reduce the overpayment. If we do this we will write to you to let you know about this.

If you are no longer in receipt of Housing Benefit within Islington Council, we will send the overpayment to our Sundry Debt team who can recover the overpayment in a number of ways some of which are listed below.

  • send an invoice to you asking you to pay back the overpayment in full (you can contact us to set up an affordable arrangement where you can pay the overpayment back in installments)

  • if you are a council tenant and your rent account is in credit we may recover the overpayment by taking back the money from your rent account (we will only ever do this where your rent account is in credit)

  • if you are in receipt of other welfare benefits for example Jobseekers Allowance or Income Support, we may request the Department of Works and Pensions reduces your benefit by a set weekly amount to pay back the overpayment

  • we may obtain a court order and if granted by the court we may be able to take an amount out of your earnings to pay back the overpayment

We will always write to you to let you know how we are going to recover any overpaid Housing Benefit.

I am on a zero hour contract and my hours are always changing - what do I need to do?

You need to provide proof of your earnings when you make a claim for Housing Benefit: 

  • your last five pay slips if you are paid weekly

  • your last three pay slips if you are paid fortnightly

  • your last two pay slips if you are paid monthly

  • if you have only just started work and not yet been paid, your employer can complete an earnings form to give us the information we need. Please contact us to request this

    We will take an average of your earnings and an average of the number of hours you worked over a two month period, and use this to assess your entitlement to benefit.

If the number of hours you work and or the amount of earnings you receive changes by a significant amount (either more hours/pay or fewer hours/less pay) then you must notify us of the change in your circumstances. You will be asked to provide proof of your earnings as above and we will re-calculate the average earnings that you receive and adjust the amount of benefit that you are entitled to according to your new circumstances.

I used to pay nothing for Council Tax why am I paying now?

The Government has changed the benefit system, everyone, apart from pensioners (who are protected by law), will have to pay something towards their council tax bill. From 1 April 2013 this will be known as the Council Tax Support scheme. If you are of working age this means you will have to pay something towards your council tax or increase the amount you pay.

What is the Benefit Cap?

The Benefit Cap is a limit on the total amount of certain benefits you can get if you're working age. The cap is:

  • £500 a week if you're a couple - with or without dependent children

  • £500 a week if you're a lone parent with dependent children

  • £350 a week if you're a single person without dependent children  

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