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Pensioners

Help with paying your rent and Council Tax if you are a pensioner

What is Housing Benefit?

Housing Benefit is a Government benefit to help you pay your rent. Ceredigion County Council administers the scheme for people living within its area. How much you get depends on your circumstances and how much rent you have to pay.

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What is Local Housing Allowance?

Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is a flat rate housing allowance, based on the rent levels for a given area and the size of the tenant's household, not the actual rent charged for the property by the landlord. This means that tenants with the same household criteria and living in the same area will be entitled to the same rate of LHA - View current monthly rates

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What is Council Tax Reduction?

Council Tax Reduction is a Welsh Government scheme to provide help with your Council Tax. Ceredigion County Council administers the scheme for people liable to pay Council Tax and living within its area. How much you get depends on your circumstances and how much Council Tax you have to pay.

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Can you reduce my Council Tax any other way?

Yes. As well as Council Tax Reduction, we can reduce your Council Tax with discounts, exemptions and reductions for people with disabilities.

For more information please see Council Tax website.

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Can I claim Housing Benefit/Local Housing Allowance?

You can make a claim for the above if you are on a low income, unemployed, cannot work because of illness, retired or you are caring for someone and you satisfy all the following conditions:

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Can I claim Council Tax Reduction?

You can make a claim for the above if you are on a low income, unemployed, cannot work because of illness, retired or you are caring for someone and you satisfy all the following conditions:

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Who will not or may not be able to claim these benefits/reduction?

You will not be entitled to Housing Benefit, Local Housing Allowance and/or Council Tax Reduction if:

  • You or your partner (if applicable) are not responsible for paying the rent and/or Council Tax.
  • You and your partner (if applicable) have more than £16,000 in savings and/or investments (unless you get the guaranteed credit element of Pension Credit).
  • You pay rent to a close relative who lives in the same property (for Housing Benefit and Local Housing Allowance cases only).
  • You rent a property, which you (or your partner) previously owned (for Housing Benefit and Local Housing Allowance cases only).
  • You live in care home, such as a nursing home or elderly person's home (for Housing Benefit and Local Housing Allowance cases only).
  • You are the parent or guardian of your landlord's child (for Housing Benefit and Local Housing Allowance cases only).
  • You live in the home as a condition of your employment by the landlord (for Housing Benefit and Local Housing Allowance cases only).
  • You are an asylum seeker, unless you've been given refugee status or indefinite or exceptional leave (also called discretionary or humanitarian leave) to remain in the United Kingdom. 
  • You have been admitted to the United Kingdom on the condition that you have no recourse to public funds.  This means that you must not claim benefits in the United Kingdom. 
  • You are a sponsored immigrant and have lived here for less than five years. 
  • You are in the United Kingdom illegally or your permission to stay has run out.  

You may not be entitled to Housing Benefit/ Local Housing Allowance if:

  • You used to live with your landlord as a family member, relative or friend, and now pay that person rent. 
  • You live in a property run by a religious order and you are a member of that religious order. 
  • You rent from a trust and you are also a trustee or beneficiary. 
  • You rent the property from a company and you are a director or employee of the company. 
  • You used to own the property which you now rent. 
  • You are a student - please see Students for further information on who can claim.
  • You are temporarily living away from your usual home - please see Temporary Absence for further information.

Please note the above is intended as guidance only. The regulations in respect of eligibility and 'Persons from Abroad' are extremely complex and you can contact us on 01970 633252 or email us at revenues@ceredigion.gov.uk to check if you would be eligible to claim benefit. Alternatively you can download and complete an Application form so that the Local Authority can officially determine any entitlement.

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Can I get benefit before I move into a new home?

If you have to pay rent for a period of time between when your tenancy started and the date you actually moved in, you may qualify for benefit for that period. However, the delay in moving in must be because of one the following:

  • 1.   You cannot move into your new home until changes are made to meet the disability needs of someone in your family
  • 2.   You are waiting for a social fund payment from the Department for Work and Pensions and you have a child aged 5 or under, or you are a pensioner or you receive a disability income
  • 3.   You were in hospital, a nursing home or residential care when you started renting the property

If you satisfy condition 2 or 3, you will only qualify for benefit prior to your occupation if you are not receiving benefit for any other accommodation.

Please also note that any benefit paid prior to occupation will only be considered after you have moved into your new home.

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How do I claim these benefits/reduction if I receive Pension Credit?

If you have claimed Pension Credit you can also make a claim for Housing Benefit/Local Housing Allowance and/or Council Tax Reduction at the same time and this will be forwarded onto us by the Pension Service

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How do I claim these benefits/reduction if I do not receive Pension Credit?

If you are not claiming Pension Credit or not entitled to Pension Credit you will need to complete a Local Authority application form and provide documentary evidence as detailed in 'What information do you need to work out my benefit/reduction?'

You can complete an application form on-line, download an Application Form or you can contact us on 01970 633252 and we will send you a claim form. Alternatively, email us at revenues@ceredigion.gov.uk providing your postal address. You can also collect a claim form at any Local District Office.

It is important that you complete and return the claim form to us at the address shown as soon as possible. If you do not have all the documentary evidence that we have asked for on the form straight away you should still return it to us, stating either on the form or a separate sheet of paper when the other information will be provided. If you delay sending the form to us, you could lose benefit/reduction.

It is very important that you complete each section on the form and tick each yes and no box. If the form is not completed properly we will have to return it to you and it will delay your claim.

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What information do you need to work out my benefit/reduction?

It is important that the correct entitlement is paid to our customers and that fraud and error are detected and prevented as early as possible. This relies on us:

  • Collecting appropriate information and evidence in support of claims and
  • Carrying out checks once your claim is in payment.

It also relies on you advising us immediately if your circumstances change. If you do not tell us about these changes you may lose money you are entitled to or you may get too much benefit/reduction.

In addition to your completed application form you will have to provide for both you and your partner (if applicable):

  • Evidence of identity
  • Evidence of address
  • Evidence of national insurance number
  • Evidence of capital, savings and investments
  • Evidence of earnings
  • Evidence of other income
  • Evidence of benefits, allowances or pensions
  • Evidence of private rent and tenancy
  • Evidence of other money paid out

Please see Supporting Evidence Checklist for a full list of documents that can be provided in support of your claim.

We can only accept original documents and not photocopies.

If you do not have all the evidence and information we need to support your claim do not delay sending in your form. Any supporting evidence should be supplied as soon as possible in order to consider your claim; however, this information must be supplied within one month of submitting your claim form.

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Does the amount of capital I have affect my claim?

It will depend on the amount of capital you and your partner (if applicable) have as to whether it will affect your entitlement.

  • If you and your partner (if applicable) have joint capital of more than £16,000 you will not normally be able to get Housing Benefit, Local Housing Allowance and/or Council Tax Reduction (unless you receive the guaranteed credit element of Pension Credit)
  • You and your partner (if applicable) can have joint capital up to £10,000 before it affects your entitlement
  • If you or your partner have reached the qualifying age for State Pension Credit, income of £1 for every £500 (or part of £500) between £10,000 and £16,000 is taken into account when we work out entitlement. This is called 'tariff income'. Please click Tariff Income to calculate the income that will be used in the assessment of your claim.

Capital includes cash, current accounts, other bank/building society/post office accounts, unit trusts, ISA's, national savings certificates, stocks, shares, premium bonds and property (other than the home you live in) or land you own.

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What happens if I have other people living with me?

Your benefit/reduction may be reduced if you have somebody else aged 18 or over (other than your partner) living with you, for example, a grown up son, daughter, friend or relative.

These people are called 'non-dependants' and a set amount depending on their income and circumstances may reduce your weekly entitlement for each non-dependant who lives in your home.

For the current level of deductions and when a deduction will apply please see Non-dependants.

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If I have a partner, do we both have to fill in a claim form?

No – you will only be required to complete one application form to include you, your partner together with anyone else who is also resident in your home.

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What happens when you receive my claim?

We will check the application form and the documentary evidence that you have provided.

If we require additional information we will contact you. This information must be provided to us within one calendar month or we may not be able to pay you.

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How long will it take to assess my entitlement?

We aim to make a decision regarding your claim within 14 days of receiving all necessary information.

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Will Housing Benefit/Local Housing Allowance meet the full rent that I have to pay my private landlord?

Housing Benefit/Local Housing Allowance may not cover your full rental liability and you will therefore be responsible for any shortfall between the benefit awarded and the actual rent you are charged by your landlord.

We will first check to see whether your claim is to be considered under the Housing Benefit or Local Housing Allowance regulations.

Please follow the Local Housing Allowance link to check if you will be considered under this scheme and to check the current weekly Local Housing Allowance rates.

If you are renting from a private Landlord (this does not include Housing Association tenancies) and you are not eligible under the Local Housing Allowance scheme, we have to ask the Rent Service if the rent you are paying is reasonable.

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What is The Rent Service?

The Rent Service is independent from the Local Authority and they will provide us with a rental valuation for your accommodation, which will be used in the assessment of your Housing Benefit claim. The Rent Service also sets the Local Housing Allowance rates.

Housing Benefit Determinations

In making a determination the Rent Officer will consider:

  • The level of rent
  • The rent for similar properties within the vicinity
  • The number of rooms
  • The age and number of people living within the property being assessed

The determination will usually apply to your claim for 12 months unless there is a significant change to the property or the number of people included within the household.

Local Housing Allowance

The Local Housing Allowance rate will be decided by the following:

  • Where you live
  • The age and number of people living in your household

The maximum LHA rate that will apply to your claim will be the rate from the April of the financial year you claim i.e. April 2014 LHA rates will apply for claims made or treated as made during the period 01.04.2014 to 31.03.2015.

Please see Local Housing Allowance if the rent charged by your landlord is lower/higher than the Local Housing Allowance rate.

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Can I find out the maximum Housing Benefit/Local Housing Allowance I am entitled to before I move into new accommodation?

Yes. Local Housing Allowance is based on the number of rooms you and your family (if applicable) need and the area in which you live. To find out which area the property you wish to rent is located, please check directly with the Rent Service by entering the postcode on their website at LHA Direct.

LHA rates are reviewed annually from the beginning of April each year unless there is a change in your circumstances which will affect the number of bedrooms used to calculate LHA, for example, when another person moves into or out of your property.

Once you have established the number of bedrooms you and your family (if applicable) need you can - View current rates for Ceredigion.

For tenancies not affected by Local Housing Allowance, you can find out how much of the rent we will use to work out your Housing Benefit before you decide to occupy your property. You can do this by filling in a pre-tenancy determination form.

You can contact us on 01970 633252, email us at revenues@ceredigion.gov.uk or call in at any of our Local District Offices to request a pre-tenancy determination form.

Please note that the weekly Local Housing Allowance rates/pre-tenancy determination figures provide the maximum level of benefit that could be paid. You will be required to complete an application form and provide all supporting evidence in order that the Local Authority can calculate your weekly entitlement.

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How much Housing Benefit, Local Housing Allowance and/or Council Tax Reduction will I get?

The level of Housing Benefit, Local Housing Allowance and/or Council Tax Reduction is assessed by comparing your and your partner's (if applicable) income with your Applicable Amount. The Applicable Amount is a standard amount set by the Government (UK and Wales) every year and is the amount which the law says you need for day to day living expenses.

If you are receiving the guaranteed element of Pension Credit the amount of weekly benefit/reduction you will normally receive is:

  • Up to the maximum level of the Local Housing Allowance or Rent Service assessment for your claim 
  • Your weekly eligible rental liability if you are a Housing Association (NB if your rent includes service charges i.e. water rates, heating etc these will be deducted from your weekly rent as Housing Benefit cannot meet these charges).
  • Your weekly Council Tax liability

This is the maximum amount we can pay. You may however, get less than the maximum amount if you have any non-dependants sharing your home.

If you are not receiving the guaranteed credit element of Pension Credit we compare your weekly income and any tariff income from capital/savings with your Applicable Amount.

We use amounts set each year by the Government (UK and Welsh) called personal allowances and premiums to work out how much you and your household need to live on. The total of your personal allowances and premiums is called your Applicable Amount.

A personal allowance will depend on:

  • Your age;
  • Whether you are single or have a partner;
  • How many dependent children you have and their ages.

Premiums are added to your personal allowances to recognise the special needs of:

  • Families;
  • Disabled people;
  • Carers.

If your weekly income is less than, or the same as, your Applicable Amount, we pay the maximum benefit/reduction (please see above), less amounts for any non-dependants that are living with you.

For Housing Benefit or Local Housing Allowance - if your weekly income is higher than your applicable amount we take 65p off your maximum benefit (please see above) for each £1 of your income that is over your Applicable Amount.

For Council Tax Reduction - if your weekly income is higher than your Applicable Amount we take 20p off your maximum reduction(please see above) for each £1 of your income that is over your Applicable Amount.

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Is there a minimum amount of benefit/reduction that is payable?

The minimum Housing Benefit or Local Housing Allowance payable is 50p per week.

There is no minimum amount of Council Tax Reduction payable weekly.

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How will my benefit/reduction be paid?

If you are a private tenant who qualifies for Housing Benefit since before 7 April 2008 or a Housing Association tenant who qualifies for Housing Benefit, we pay you a 'rent allowance'. The rent allowance is usually paid to you every 2 weeks in arrears; however, we can sometimes pay it to your Housing Association or landlord. Direct payment of your rent allowance to the Housing Association or landlord will be made every 4 weeks, in arrears.

If you are a private tenant who qualifies for Local Housing Allowance since the 7 April 2008 we must pay this to you unless there are exceptional circumstances. We can only make payments to your landlord in specific circumstances and we have developed a set of criteria that help us make a decision on these cases; we call this our Safeguard Policy.

If you have been housed by the Emergency Accommodations team and/or Homeless team and you qualify for Housing Benefit we pay you a weekly rent rebate. The rent rebate is paid directly to your rent account and reduces the amount of weekly rent you have to pay.

We will pay your Council Tax Reduction directly into your Council Tax account and we will send you a new Council Tax bill to advise you how much you have to pay.

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When will my benefit/reduction start?

If you qualify for Housing Benefit or Local Housing Allowance, we will normally pay your benefit from the Monday after you asked us for an application form (as long as you return the application form within one calendar month of contacting us).

If you qualify for Council Tax Reduction we will normally pay your reduction from the date you asked for an application form (as long as you return the application form within one month of contacting us).

When you make a claim for Housing Benefit/Local Housing Allowance and/or Council Tax Reduction over the phone through the Pension Service, we will treat the date of your claim as the same date you contacted the Pension Service.

If you are awarded Pension Credit the benefits will have the same claim date.

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Can my benefit/reduction be backdated?

If you or your partner (if applicable) are aged over 60 we will automatically backdate your claim for up to 3 months providing you are able to show that you qualified for Housing Benefit, Local Housing Allowance and/or Council Tax Reduction during that period.

Please see Backdating Benefit for more information.

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How long is benefit/reduction paid for?

Benefit/reduction is awarded for as long as entitlement remains. From time to time we will need to confirm details of your claim and we will contact you where this is necessary or we may arrange to visit.

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What happens if I disagree with your decision?

When we have decided on your claim we will send you an official notification letter. The letter will advise you of all of the details we have used to work out your benefit entitlement and it is important that you check that the information is correct.

FOR HOUSING BENEFIT OR LOCAL HOUSING ALLOWANCE

If you want to know more about the decision or if you think it is wrong, you should get in touch with us within one month from the date of the notification letter or we may not be able to consider any dispute.

You can either ask for an explanation or:

  • ask, in writing, for a written 'Statement of Reason'
  • ask us to look again at the decision – 'Dispute the Decision'. This must be done in writing. If the decision can be changed we will send you a new decision. If we cannot change the decision we will tell you why. If you still disagree you have one month to appeal from the date of the new decision.
  • 'Appeal' against the decision – this can only be done in writing. If you appeal against the decision your appeal will be referred to an Independent Tribunal administered by The Tribunal Service.

FOR COUNCIL TAX REDUCTION

If you require more details on any matter set out in the notice or the reasons for the decision you can within one month of the date of the letter request in writing a 'Written Statement of Reasons'.

If you are aggrieved by the decision you can within one month of the date of this letter serve a 'written notice' on the Council clearly stating the matter(s) by which, and the grounds on which, you are aggrieved. We will consider the matter(s) to which your notice relates and will notify you in writing of our decision with reasons. If following this letter you are still aggrieved you then have 2 months to appeal directly to the Valuation Tribunal for Wales (VTW).

Please note that you may also appeal directly to the VTW if we have failed to notify you of our decision within 2 months of you serving a 'written notice' on the Council.

Please see Appeals for more information.

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What happens if my circumstances change?

The law says that you must inform us if there are any changes to the information we have used to decide the amount of Housing Benefit/Local Housing Allowance and/or Council Tax Reduction you are entitled to.

However, some pensioners do not have to report all changes of circumstances in the same way as other people.

The main rules are: -

If you are receiving Pension Credit

You should inform the Pension Service about any changes in your income. The Pension Service will inform the Local Authority if the change in your income affects your Housing Benefit/Local Housing Allowance and/or Council Tax Reduction entitlement.

You should inform the Local Authority about any other changes, for example, changes to your capital/savings, rent or any people who live with you.

Please see Change of Circumstances for further information.

If you are not receiving Pension Credit

You should inform the Local Authority immediately about any changes.

Please see Change of Circumstances for further information.

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Can I claim benefit on two homes?

Benefit is usually only paid for the home in which you are currently living and paying rent.  However, there are some circumstances where you may be able to get help for two homes

For further information please see Claiming Benefit on Two Homes

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What happens if I am temporarily absent from my home?

Housing Benefit, Local Housing Allowance and/or Council Tax Reduction are only normally payable whilst you are resident at the property. However, benefit/reduction may still be paid while you are temporarily away from your home in certain circumstances.

For further information please see Temporary absence.

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Can I get any extra help to pay my rent?

If you are in receipt of some Housing Benefit or Local Housing Allowance but are still finding it difficult to pay the remainder of your rent, you may be entitled to receive an additional payment to help you with the shortfall. This is known as a Discretionary Housing Payment.

Each application for Discretionary Housing Payment is considered on the individual merits of the case. Payments will be awarded if you can show that you are experiencing financial hardship, or you have some other special circumstance which is causing you difficulty paying your rent and/or Council Tax.

Please see Discretionary Housing Payment for more information.

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