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Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction

Benefits are changing. Are you ready?

Find out more about the benefit changes

Housing benefit/Council tax reduction are means tested to help people on low income to pay their rent/Council tax.

If you pay both rent and council tax, you can apply for both Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction at the same time with one claim form.

Will I be entitled to Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Reduction

You can use the online calculator to see if you may be entitled to Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Reduction. You can also use this calculator to find out how a change in your circumstances might affect your current Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction.

How to claim

If you wish to make a claim direct to South Ayrshire Council you can download a claim form and additional information to help you to complete the claim form. If you have any difficulty downloading the claim form or the additional information, please contact your local Benefit Services office.

If you are currently making a claim for Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance or Pension Credit you may have already completed a claim form for Housing Benefit. The Jobcentre Plus or Pensions, Disability and Carers Service will tell you if they are going to send that claim form to the Council for you. If they are going to send your claim form to us you should not need to complete one of the Council's claim forms.

Changes in circumstances

If you are getting Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Reduction and you move to a new address or other circumstances change, you should tell us straightaway. You may need to make a new claim for Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Reduction. Examples of changes are:

  • Changes in income for yourself and/or partner separately or jointly.
  • Anyone living with you not receiving full time education reaching 18 years of age.
  • A change in the number of people living in your household.
  • Any person living in your household who starts to receive or stops receiving Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance (Income Based).
  • Any child who ceases to be in full time education.
  • If a child takes up full time work.
  • If you change your address.
  • If you and/or your partner go into hospital.
  • If your rent changes.
  • You are in receipt of Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance (Income Based) and you stop receiving it.
  • You move from your present address.

Changes to Housing Benefit from 1 April 2013

What are the changes?

From 1 April 2013 the Government is introducing size limit rules into Housing Benefit for working age people only who are renting from a local authority, a registered housing association or other registered social landlord.

The new rules will restrict the size of accommodation you can receive Housing Benefit for based on the number of people in your household.

The new rules allow one bedroom for:

  • every adult couple (married or unmarried)
  • any other adult aged 16 or over
  • any two children of the same sex aged under 16
  • any two children aged under 10
  • any other child, (other than a foster child or child whose main home is elsewhere)
  • a carer (or team of carers) who do not live with you but provide you or your partner with overnight care

How could you be affected?

It is possible that the amount of Housing Benefit you get to pay your rent and any service charges could go down.

If you are assessed under these rules as having more bedrooms than are necessary for your household you will be considered to be under-occupying that property.

If you have one or more extra bedrooms your Housing Benefit may be reduced. The amount allowed for rent and any service charges will be reduced by:

  • 14% for under-occupancy by 1 bedroom
  • 25% for under-occupancy by 2 bedrooms or more

If you are thinking of moving you need to consider these changes before renewing or making a new tenancy agreement.

You may be able to get a Discretionary Housing Payment to make up all or some of the reduction – see our section on Discretionary Housing Payments.

When will these changes take effect?

The new size limit rules are due to take effect on 1 April 2013.

It is important that you start to consider what your options might be now and where necessary talk to your landlord or local authority

If you want to know more about this please contact Benefit Services.

Council Tax Reduction – Requesting a review

Council Tax Reduction is a reduction on your council tax you may be entitled to if you are on a low income. If you are dissatisfied with the council tax reduction decision made you can, provided it is done within two months of that decision, seek a review of the decision by writing to us requesting a review. A review of eligibility for Council Tax Reduction will consider the amount of income a person has with the amount that a person needs to live on (their applicable amount) this will vary depending on the circumstances of the individual and their dependants.

The request for review must state the reasons why the individual thinks the council tax reduction decision is incorrect. We must then consider the request and reply with our decision in writing within 2 months. A request for a review of Council Tax Reduction should be sent to:

South Ayrshire Council
Benefit Services
PO Box 31
Ayr
KA7 2PL

Further Review

If after receiving a review decision by ourselves you remain dissatisfied then you can seek an independent ruling from the Council Tax Reduction Review Panel (CTRRP) who will conduct a further review.

A further review by the Council Tax Reduction Review Panel can only be requested after the Local Authority has carried out an internal review.

The only exception to this is if you do not receive a written response from us within two months of writing to request a review. If this occurs you or your representative can request in writing an independent ruling from the Council Tax Reduction Review Panel.

The Council Tax Reduction Review Panel is an independent body which is an addition to the Scottish Tribunals Service, providing an additional review service to safeguard individual's rights to administrative justice when assessing an individual's eligibility for Council Tax Reduction. They will consider the facts presented to them and give an independent ruling as to whether our decision is correct or not.

An application for further review should be made directly by the individual applicant or their representative in writing to the Council Tax Reduction Review Panel, Europa Building, 450 Argyll Street, Glasgow G2 8LH

Further information, including application forms, are available via the Council Tax Reduction Panel's website or by telephoning 0141 242 0223.

When notified by the Council Tax Reduction Review Panel of a further review, we will forward copies of the notification of review to the applicant, responses to that notice, relevant extracts from the applicant’s Council Tax Reduction application, summary of response to review and any other supporting communications to the Panel. We will also forward a copy of all the documentation we are submitting to the Council Tax Reduction Review Panel to the applicant prior to the hearing.

Further information regarding Council Tax Reduction, how it works, FAQs and Reviews are also available via the Scottish Government website.

Where to get more information

If you have not found the information you are looking for online please contact Benefit Services for more on Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction.

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