Benefit advice

Your Benefits Team is happy to provide advice and help concerning claiming and receiving Housing Benefit, Council Tax Support and Discretionary awards.

Note however that the world of benefits is changing and for working age claimants Universal Credit will gradually replace Housing Benefit. Please see below for some general advice. 

Important news - Universal Credit comes to the Derbyshire Dales

Universal Credit Full Service has 'rolled out' for working age claimants. This means that anyone claiming for help with their rent has to claim through Universal Credit payable by Jobcentre Plus. Contact Matlock Jobcentre for further information.

This means:

  • that if you are of working age (not a pensioner), we won’t be able to accept new claims for Housing Benefit and instead you will instead have to claim Universal Credit (UC) and, 
  • Receive help towards your rent and living expenses within the UC payments made to you by Jobcentre Plus.  

Note, that you MUST still claim help towards the council tax on your home by claiming Council Tax Support with the Council.

In summary, Universal Credit is a 'benefit 'for working age people and includes help towards housing costs.

Pensioners remain unaffected by Universal Credit changes and can continue to claim Housing Benefit with the Council.

Persons living in supported accommodation can continue to claim Housing benefit as can claimants who have been told by Jobcentre Plus offices that you cannot claim Universal Credit.

What is Housing Benefit (HB)?

HB is help towards the payment of rent on your home where you are on a low income. You must be living at the address being claimed for and must pay rent for your home to either to a private landlord or to a Housing Association e.g. Platform Housing Group.

Housing Benefit is a means tested benefit which means that your personal and financial circumstances will determine how much help we can give you.

The Department for Work & Pensions will gradually transfer working age customer from their existing benefit entitlements to Universal Credit over the coming years. No new claims for Housing Benefit are allowed unless you fit an exemption group or are elderly. Contact your Benefits Team for further clarification.

Pensioners can continue to claim Housing Benefit and are not affected by Universal Credit changes.

We may be able to award Discretionary Housing Payment if you need extra help with your housing costs.

What is Council Tax Support (CTS)?

Council Tax Support Scheme acts like a benefit to reduce the council tax that you have to pay on your home. It is claimed by local people who are on low incomes and is  a means tested entitlement and is credited to your council tax bill reducing the instalments that you are asked to pay every month.

All claimants have at least 8.5% of their annual council tax to pay but where this causes any budgeting problems you can contact the Benefits Section to see if additional discretionary help can be provided to reduce the amount you have to pay. A written request is necessary explaining the reasons.

If you and/or your partner have more than £16,000 in savings and investments you cannot claim for HB and CTB (unless you are getting the Pension Credit Guaranteed Credit).

Second Adult Rebate can help a small number of households if you are a single person who is liable to pay the Council Tax, but have other adults who live with you who are on a low income. If you think you may qualify, or want more information, please speak to our officers who will advise you.

What is Local Housing Allowance (LHA)?

If you are a private tenant renting property or a room from a private landlord and you are on a low income, you may be able to claim and receive LHA as help towards the payment of your rent.

The Department for Work & Pensions sets maximum weekly amounts that can be paid on your claim based on the area in which you live and the number of bedrooms required by your household.

Contact the Benefits Section on 01629 818222 for further advice or look at the Local Housing Allowance rates elsewhere on these pages (see left).

How do I claim Housing Benefit and/ or Council Tax Support?

You must contact us for an application form or download one on from the 'Benefits' page on this website. You can visit us in person or telephone us for advice. Complete your application form and return it with all the relevant original documents as soon as possible. The claim form tells you exactly what you need to send us. You may also claim as part of another claim for a separate government benefit, allowance or Pension Credit.

For working age claimants – the introduction of Universal Credit will see the replacement of Housing Benefit with a Housing Cost Element payable within the Universal Credit. You will continue however to claim Council Tax Support from your District Council.

When should I claim?

You should claim HB, LHA or CTS as soon as you can. We will need to confirm your income and circumstances with your claim generally starting from the Monday of the following week. Special rules exists depending on your circumstances but will endeavour to maximise your entitlement from the earliest date we can.

If you receive Pension Credit you may also be entitled to automatic backdating of your date of claim. 

Benefit cannot normally be backdated, so you could lose benefit if you delay in claiming. You can ask for a late claim to be backdated, this request must be in writing on the application form, or in a separate letter, but we will have to be sure that there is good cause for your delay in claiming.

How will my Housing Benefit be paid?

When we have worked out your benefit we will send you a letter telling you about it. If your claim is successful, your HB will be paid to you, or if you prefer, it can be paid directly to your landlord. HB is always paid in arrears at the end of each payment period. We may also pay your HB direct to your landlord if you are in arrears with your rent.

How will my Local Housing Allowance be paid?

The payment will normally be made straight to your bank or building society account (if you have one). Payment is not normally made to your landlord. If you do not already have a bank or building society account, you may want to set one up. That way you can also arrange to pay the rent to your landlord automatically by standing order. You can get advice about opening and running a bank account from any bank or building society. You can also get advice from organisations such as the Citizen's Advice Bureau (within the Town Hall). The Government has also set published a document to help with setting up bank accounts.

It is your responsibility to pay your rent to your landlord. If you don't pay your rent, you may be taken to court and evicted from the property.

If you are worried about managing your money, please let us know. We have a 'Safeguards Policy' document that explains that we may, in certain circumstances, pay your LHA direct to your landlord where you have difficulties managing your own financial affairs (see 'Related Documents' below).

How is my Council Tax Support paid?

When we have worked out your CTS, we will send you a letter telling you about it. If your claim is successful, we will send you a new Council Tax Bill showing the revised amount to pay.

How is my Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support worked out?

HB and CTS will be worked out at the same time, you only need to complete one form. The amount of Benefit you can receive depends on your family circumstances, your income and your savings. Your benefit will be calculated by comparing the amount of money the Government says you need to live on, (the applicable amount,) with the money you have coming in each week. If you receive an income related benefit from DWP (includes Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance (Income Based), Guaranteed Pension Credit) or your income is less than the applicable amount, you will receive maximum Housing and Council Tax Support.

If your income is more than your applicable amount, the amount of HB and CTS you receive will reduce on a sliding scale. If you have other people living in your home (for example grown up children), your Benefit may be reduced according to their circumstances. This is because they are expected to pay towards your rent and council tax.

How is my Local Housing Allowance (LHA) worked out?

The Rent Service provides us with levels of LHA for accommodation linked to the number of bedrooms that are required in a property. The LHA rates are calculated for individual areas, known as Broad Rental Market Areas. Derbyshire Dales has 4 BRMAs:

  • Peak and District
  • Derby
  • Sheffield
  • East Staffordshire.

Visit the Valuation Office Agency website - where you can find out which BRMA your property is in and also view the LHA rates for any area and any month.

LHA rates are updated annually to reflect changes in the housing market. The amount you actually receive will be determined by where you live, the number of bedrooms your family requires, your financial circumstances and when you claim.

How will my income be assessed?

You will be asked to confirm and provide evidence of all of the income that you and your partner receive. Some incomes are fully disregarded for the purposes of calculating your entitlement, e.g. Child Benefit of DLA. Some income attract a partial disregard e.g. we deduct tax and national insurance from any gross earnings that you receive.

Wage earners are expected to provide consecutive weekly or monthly wage slips. The self-employed are expected to provide either the latest relevant certified accounts or a self assessment of your recent business income and expenditure.

Savings and investments may also affect your entitlement. There will be no entitlement to benefit, where savings exceed £16,000. 

What happens if my circumstances change?

It is important that you tell us about changes in your circumstances immediately
If the change means benefit has been overpaid you may be asked to repay this amount.
If you take more than a month to tell us of a change that may increase your benefit we may not be able to alter your benefit from the date of the change.

Examples of changes in income and family circumstances that could affect your HB, LHA or CTS:

  • When Income Support or Job Seeker's Allowance stops or starts.
  • A change of address.
  • Changes in income or savings.
  • When someone moves in or out of your home.

This list cannot cover everything. If you don't know if a change in your circumstances will alter your benefit, tell us anyway.

What if I disagree with the council's decision on Housing Benefit or Local Housing Allowance?

If you disagree with the decision you can ask us to look at your claim again. You must contact us within one month of the date on the decision letter. You can phone, write or visit us and ask us to explain the decision and/or request a written statement of reasons, which will show more information about the decision. If you are still dissatisfied, you can appeal. Please contact us and we will advise you further.

Note advice on how to challenge a decision on your entitlement to Council Tax Support is contained here. The arrangements are slightly different.

  • If you require any further information then please contact our Benefits Section by email:, by telephone on 01629 818222 or in person at Matlock Town Hall.

Data Protection

Derbyshire Dales District Council in partnership with Chesterfield Borough Council will process your personal data for the administration of Housing Benefit, Local Housing Allowance, Discretionary awards and Council Tax Support. Your information will also be used to recover any overpayments made to you or your landlord.

Your personal data may be passed to other organisations when there is a legal basis or obligation to do so, e.g. the prevention and detection of fraud.

The council and its partners will ensure your data is handled securely in line with data protection law/legislation. Further details of how we process your personal data and your rights as a data subject can be found on our website at