Home > Benefits > Your benefit notification letters explained
Your benefit notification letters explained
Your Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support notification letters explain how much Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support you get, and how this has been worked out.
You can receive your letters quicker by signing up to paperless notifications
We send you a new letter every time there is a change to the amount of Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support you get. Sometimes your letter will show different amounts for different periods where your benefit has changed due to changes in your circumstances, for example if your income has gone up or down.
What you need to do
You need to check each page carefully to make sure the information we have used to work out your awards is correct. This is very important as if the information is wrong and we pay you too much, we may ask you to repay any amount overpaid. Contact us straight away if any information is wrong.
If you pay Council Tax, your new bill is based on this assessment and so any balance left to pay should be paid as stated on the bill. If your bill says ‘Direct Debit’, the instalments will be automatically collected from your bank account and you don’t need to do anything.
If you rent your home from us, your Housing Benefit will be credited to your rent account. If you don’t rent your home from us, we will pay any Housing Benefit as stated in the letter.
If something changes
Please tell us about any changes to your circumstances. We will also need to see proof of your new circumstances.
You don’t need to tell us about changes to the amount of Council Tax you have to pay or, if you are a council tenant, changes to your rent.
If you disagree with our decision
If you disagree with a decision about the amount you have been awarded or whether you're entitled to support, you may be able to challenge a Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support decision.
An explanation of some of the words in your letter
Your applicable amount is the amount of money that the government says you need to cover basic living costs each week. This doesn’t include rent and Council Tax and it depends on your individual circumstances. The amount is set by the Department for Work and Pensions and changes every year.
We compare your income to your applicable amount to work out how much Housing Benefit you get. The higher your income is above your applicable amount, the less Housing Benefit you will get.
If you get Employment and Support Allowance (income-related), Income Support, Jobseeker’s allowance (income-based) or Pension Credit guaranteed credit, we don’t use an applicable amount to work out your Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support.
Your excess income is the amount of income you have over your applicable amount.
Gross weekly income
Your gross weekly income is all the money you have coming in each week.
Your total weekly income used is the income we use to work out how much Housing Benefit you get. The higher your income is above your applicable amount, the less Housing Benefit you will get.
The Council Tax Support scheme for working age people is based on an income-banded grid with different figures depending on your individual circumstances (single, couple, family/single parent with one child, family/single parent with two or more children).
Income disregards are incomes you get that we don’t count when we work out your Council Tax Support, including:
- Child Benefit
- child maintenance payments
- pension contributions
- Carer’s Allowance
- Disability Living Allowance
- Personal Independence Payments
- Armed Forces Independence Payments
- War Disablement Benefits.
Net weekly income
Your net weekly income is all the money you get from employment, self-employment, benefits and other income including any money you may get from people who lodge with you.
A non-dependant is normally any adult who lives with you who is not your partner. In some cases we make a deduction from your Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support to represent the contribution they are expected to make to your household. This is called a non-dependant deduction.