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If you've recently made a claim for Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance, then there's no need to make a claim for Housing Benefit as the Jobcentre will send us a claim on your behalf. However if you need to claim help with your council tax you will need to contact us to make a claim for Council Tax Reduction.
You can make a claim for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction online. Complete this form in your own time and at your own pace. The online form will ask only the questions relevant to your circumstances and tell you if you need to provide any further information.
Alternatively, if you cannot make a claim online call us on 0117 922 2300. A Customer Adviser will talk you through the other options for making a claim.
Please use our online benefits calculator to find out whether you are able to claim, with an estimate of how much you might get.
You can claim Housing Benefit as long as:
- You rent a home from Bristol City Council, private landlord, letting agent or housing association; or
- You are a sub-tenant or lodger
You can't claim Housing Benefit if you:
- Rent your home from a close relative who lives in the same house
- Own your home or have a mortgage
You can claim Council Tax Reduction even if you own your home as long as you or your partner are responsible for paying the Council Tax bill.
If your income is too high for you to be entitled to Council Tax Reduction but you share your home with an adult who is on a low income then you may still be entitled to claim a reduction from your bill- this is commonly known as Second Adult Reduction.
In most cases, if you and any partner have joint savings or investments totalling more than £16,000 you will not be entitled to any Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction.
If you rent from a private landlord or letting agency your benefit will be worked out using the Local Housing Allowance.
Sometimes we need you to provide us with documents to confirm what you told us when you made your claim.
We promise never to ask you for anything that we already have access to and to only ask you to provide documents when it's absolutely necessary.
The kind of things we might need to see include:
- Some recent payslips, if you're working
- Your tenancy agreement, to confirm the rent you pay
- Some recent bank statements
- Evidence of your National Insurance number
If we ask you to provide any of this information, we'll explain clearly what we need and confirm this in writing, or you can read more about the evidence we may need online.
Remember that we won't be able to make a decision or pay you any money until we have all of the information we've asked for.
The quickest way to get the documents to us is to take them to one of our Customer Service Points across the city.
Unfortunately we cannot accept documents by email. We also don't recommend posting original documents to us because of the risk that they may be delayed or lost in the postal system.
If you are housebound or have mobility issues we may be able to visit you at home and collect the information we need. Please call us on 0117 922 2300 to discuss what we can do.
Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction are usually paid from the Monday after we received your application.
In some circumstances, your claim can be paid from an earlier date up to six months prior to the date you submit your application. This is often referred to as 'backdating'.
If you would like your claim to be paid from an earlier date you'll need to explain to us that there are good reasons why you weren't able to apply earlier. One of our team will then decide whether we can backdate your benefit and let you know their decision and their reasons for it.
If you are a pensioner who has never claimed before then the law enables us to automatically backdate your claim by up to three months if you would have been entitled to Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction during that time.
In order for us to do this we may ask you to provide some additional information when you claim.
If you rent your home from the council we will credit any Housing Benefit direct to your rent account.
If you rent your home from a Housing Association you can have any Housing Benefit paid direct to your rent account every four weeks, in arrears. Alternatively, you can choose to have any Housing Benefit paid direct into your bank account every fortnight, in arrears. You are then responsible for ensuring that this money is used towards your rent.
If you rent your home from a private landlord or letting agency we will pay any Housing Benefit direct into your bank account every fortnight, in arrears. You are then responsible for ensuring that this money is used towards your rent.
If you do not keep up with your rent payments your landlord can apply for any Housing Benefit to be paid direct to them.
Council Tax Reduction:
This is used to reduce your Council Tax account and you will receive a revised bill for the year showing the reduction that has been applied and any balance outstanding.