What changes must I tell the Benefit Section about?
Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit are complex benefits worked out by the Council's Benefit Office using rules laid down by central government. The amount of benefit you are entitled to depends on:
- amount of income
- types of income received (for example: wages, state benefits, tax credit etc)
- Pension entitlement- Occupational
- Pension Credit
- capital (savings, bank accounts, building society accounts, shares, Life insurance, national saving certificates, ISA's, property other than where you live, cash, premium bonds, redundancy pay, etc)
- age (key birthdays can effect entitlement ie 18,25,35,60,& 65)
- if you have a partner
- number of dependants
- number of non-dependants
- amount of rent
- lodgers or boarder
- services included in your rent
- change to number of rooms provided in accommodation
- Rent Officer's Decision
- change of landlord
- amount of Council Tax
Once your claim has been assessed it is very important that you keep your claim up to date by telling us about changes as soon as they happen. If you do not report changes in your circumstances straight away you may receive less help than you otherwise may be entitled to. You could also be overpaid and have to pay back some or all of the benefit received.
If there has been a change, or you are thinking of making a claim, you can use an online benefit calculator which has been recommended by the Department for Work and Pensions. Please note that the online calculator is only a guide and that the final decision on your claim will be made by the Benefit Office. There is a link to the calculator at the foot of the page.
When must I report changes?
The law says you must report in writing changes in circumstances to the Benefit Office within one calendar month. Failure to report changes straight away may result in a loss of Housing or Council Tax Benefit. Changes can result in an appropriate over or underpayment. Examples of the changes you must tell us about include:
- if you move home
- if you move rooms within the house where you live
- if your rent changes
- if your partner moves out
- if your partner moves in
- if there is a change to the number of children living with you
- if you change your name
- if you go abroad
- if you or your partner go into hospital
- if you or your partner go into prison
- if any state benefits you or your partner are getting either change or stop
- if you or your partner start to get a new state benefit
- if you or your partner are awarded Tax Credit or if it changes
- if the income received by you or your partner changes
- changes to the amount of savings
- if you or your partner start work or change jobs
- if the number of people who stay with you changes
- if anyone in your household has a change in their income
- if you have any other change which may affect your benefit
Important changes from April 2004
The rules for reporting changes changed from April 2004. As a result you do not need to fill in a full application form to reclaim if you are already claiming benefit from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar; and
- you stop receiving Income Support; or
- you stop receiving income based Job Seekers Allowance; or
- you stop receiving Pension Credit
Important Changes from 5 December 2005
The new civil partnership act came into effect on the 5th of December 2005. This means partners in a same sex couple relationship are recognised in law providing equality. For Housing Benefit purposes, it means there is now a requirement to complete the application form as claimant & partner where they are in a civil partnership relationship. Benefit will be assessed on the couple's income and needs allowance, and one-bedroomed accommodation will be considered as the appropriate size, in line with the current requirements for couples.
How do I report a change of address?
To report a change of address you will need to complete a short form telling us about your new accommodation. If you are being charged rent at the new address you will need to send us the tenancy agreement or other rent proof. The Change of Address form can be obtained by contacting the Benefit Office or from our downloadable forms section below.
How do I report that I, or my partner, have started work?
To report this change you will need to complete a specially shortened form telling us about your job and other circumstances. This form can be obtained by contacting the Benefit Office or by downloading it and printing it out from our downloadable forms section below.
How do I report other changes?
All changes must be reported to the Benefit Section in writing. (Contact Details) Remember to include your name, address, reference number together with details and dates of each change.
Any person who provides false statements, information or documents at the time of, or in support of their claim or who continues to receive benefit when he or she knowingly fails to inform the Council of a relevant change which occurs after the claim was made, will be liable to criminal prosecution under the Theft Act 1968 or Social Security Administration Act 1992 (as amended).