Covid-19 update: Click to get info
Libraries, along with many other Council services continue to be impacted by Covid-19. The link below will enable you to access up-to-date information about our libraries and the services they are currently able to offer.
You must use our on-line facilities to access benefits services wherever possible.
Important Information Regarding Coronavirus
The coronavirus has affected most, if not all Waltham Forest residents. This is likely to be the case for a considerable period of time. The Council has taken a number of measures to assist people if and when they are affected.
We have temporarily relaxed our policy regarding the level of evidence you need to provide to claim Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support if you are affected by the coronavirus. This applies if you;
- have, or think you have, contracted it
- are caring for somebody who may have contracted
- are self isolating
You will no longer have to provide original documents in support of a claim. We will accept images or copies although you will have to provide originals at a later date.
The Council is facing unprecedented demand on its services and our caller centre will be particularly busy. If at all possible you should use our online facilities using the links below as opposed to making contact by telephone.
You can claim Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support online although if you are of working age you will probably have to claim help with your housing costs through Universal Credit on the GOV.UK website.
If you are already receiving Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support you can tell us about any changes in your circumstances by completing the change in circumstances form.
If you are already receiving help with your housing costs, whether through housing benefit or Universal Credit or if you are receiving Council Tax Support we may be able to provide you with additional help if you find your financial situation has worsened as a result of the coronavirus. Again, this applies whether you think you have contracted it, are caring for somebody who may have contracted it or are self isolating. If you are already receiving discretionary help we may be able to increase your award. Find out more about discretionary payments on the GOV.UK website.
You can find more information about coronavirus and claiming benefits from the Department for Works and Pensions on the Understanding Universal Credit website.
Most people who need to apply for help with their rent should now apply for Universal Credit.
Other information and advice on the government website includes:
Details on the assistance available if you are self-employed or own your own business.
Advice on matters you should consider when you are either providing help to or receiving help from others.
Should I apply for Housing Benefit or Universal Credit for help with my rent?
This will depend on several things including:
- your circumstances
- where you live
- if you’re making a new benefits claim
- if you have a change in circumstances
To find out which benefit you should apply for, please see our page Universal Credit and help with your rent.
To find out about all aspects of Universal Credit, not just rent, visit the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Understanding Universal Credit website.
You can still apply for Council Tax Support, Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP), Discretionary Council Tax Hardship Support (DCTHS) and free school meals whether you claim Universal Credit or Housing Benefit.
Who can claim Housing Benefit Click to get info
Housing Benefit can help you pay some, or all of, your rent if:
- you’re on benefits
- you get a pension
- you're working, but on a low income
- you need help paying the rent
- you're unemployed
You can’t get Housing Benefit if:
Benefit calculator Click to get info
Calculate how much Housing Benefit you could get.
Use the information you entered to start your claim.
The amount of benefit you get depends on:
- your income
- other benefits you are claiming
- the amount of other money, savings or investments you have
- the income and savings of other people who live in your home
- your circumstances
Your benefit may be reduced if you have somebody else living with you who isn’t your partner.
If you have savings between £6,000 and £16,000 you may not get the full amount of Housing Benefit.
If you’re not sure if you earn too much to qualify, you should claim anyway.
Apply for Housing Benefit Click to get info
If you want to authorise someone you trust to help you with your claim, you can do this by completing an online authorisation form.
If you need help paying your Council Tax, you can also use this form to apply for Council Tax Support. Find out more on our Council Tax Support page.
Apply at a Library Plus
You can apply online using the self-service PCs at any of these Library Plus branches:
If you need help completing the online form, staff will be available to help you.
In some cases, we may be able to make a home visit to take your application for Housing Benefit. If you're housebound and don’t have any family or friends who can help you, call us on 020 8496 3000 and tell us why you need a home visit.
Providing evidence to support your claim Click to get info
Once you've submitted your claim form, we may write to you and ask you to provide evidence to support it. If possible, please upload it online.
- Take a picture or scan of the document you want to send us, and save it on your computer. Please check all pictures and files before you submit them to make sure that all details can be seen clearly.
- Complete the online form, attach the pictures or files, then submit the form
- Your details and documents will be sent securely to us.
Image files need to be in any of the following formats: GIF, JPG, JPEG, TIFF, PDF, BMP, PNG. No single file should be larger than 10MB.
If you can't upload your evidence online, you can sent it to us by post, to the address at the bottom of this page. Please note, we can't accept responsibility for any documents list in the post.
You can drop off your evidence to any of our Library Plus branches:
If you've had a change in circumstances, please tell us first, using the online form on our change of circumstances page. We'll let you know if we need you to bring any additional evidence.
What happens next?
We aim to process your application within 10 working days.
Report a change in your circumstances Click to get info
You must tell us about a move, or a change in your circumstances.
You may be prosecuted if you deliberately give us false information, or don’t tell us of a change in your circumstances, to get more benefit than you're entitled to.
Please see our change in circumstances web page for more information and to use the online form.
Local Housing Allowance Click to get info
Single people under 35
If you’re single, under 35 years old and live in private housing, we'll limit your Housing Benefit to the market rent for a single room.
This is called shared accommodation rate
Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is the name for Housing Benefit for most tenants of private landlords who claim Housing Benefit after April 2008.
Visit our Local Housing Allowance page for more information.
Spare bedroom reductions ('bedroom tax') Click to get info
If you have spare bedrooms, your Housing Benefit could be reduced.
What counts as a spare bedroom?
The following are expected to share:
- an adult couple
- two children under 16 (same gender)
- two children under 10 (regardless of gender)
The following can have their own bedroom:
- a single adult (16 or over)
- a child that would normally share, but the shared bedroom is already taken
- a couple, or children, who can't share because of disability or medical condition
- an overnight carer for a household member who has to stay overnight sometimes
If you're working age, have a disability and need a spare bedroom so a carer can stay overnight, contact us at the address at the bottom of this page, so we can help you keep more of your Housing Benefit.
How much is the reduction?
- 14 per cent reduction for one spare bedroom
- 25 per cent reduction for two or more spare bedrooms
Non-dependant deductions Click to get info
If you have other people over the age of 18 living with you, it may affect your Housing Benefit. They may be expected to pay towards your housing costs.
This person may be a:
- child that you no longer get Child Benefit for
They are called ‘non-dependants’.
We take set amounts off your benefit depending on their weekly income.
Even if your non-dependant doesn’t give you anything, or you don’t want to take anything, the law says that we still have to take the set amounts off your benefit.
Non-dependant deductions from April 2019
Non dependent’s income
Aged under 25 and getting income support, income based JSA or ESA which does not include the support or work related components
Aged 25 or over and on IS or JSA(IB) or aged over 18 or over and not in remunerative work
Getting main phase ESA(IR)
Getting state pension credits
Aged 18+ and in remunerative work:
We don't make a deduction for any non-dependant, if you or your partner is:
- registered blind
- getting Attendance Allowance, or Constant Attendance Allowance
- getting the care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
- getting the standard, or enhanced rate, of the Daily Living Component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
- getting Armed Forces Independence Payment
We don't make a deduction if the non-dependant:
- is under 18
- is under 25 and getting Income Support or income-based JSA or ESA (assessment phase)
- is under 25, has no earned income and is getting Universal Credit
- is on work-based training for young people and getting a training allowance
- is a full-time student or student nurse
- has been in hospital for more than 52 weeks
- is in legal custody
- usually lives elsewhere
- is getting Pension Credits
- is the child of you, or your partner and is in the armed forces, deployed on operations
Changes in circumstances
The benefits cap Click to get info
The ‘benefits cap’ refers to the maximum amount of certain benefits you can get if you're working age.
Housing Benefit is included in the benefits cap. Council Tax Support, Discretionary Housing Payments and Housing Benefit for supported accommodation are not included.
For people living within Greater London, the cap is:
- £442.31 per week (£23,000 a year) for a couple, whether your children live with you or not
- £442.31 per week (£23,000 a year) if you’re single and your children live with you
- £296.35 per week (£15,410 a year) if you’re single and you don't have children, or your children don't live with you
Am I affected by the benefits cap?
There are lots of exceptions that mean the benefits cap may not apply to your situation.
Please visit GOV.UK to find out more about the benefits cap, including which circumstances mean you won't be affected by it.
Access your claim online: Benefits Connect self service Click to get info
How we pay your Housing Benefit Click to get info
For council tenants
We’ll pay your Housing Benefit straight into your rent account.
We’ll tell you how much your Housing Benefit is, and how much your rent payments will be.
For private tenants
Housing Benefit is paid directly to you or to your landlord depending on your circumstances.
Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is the name for those claiming housing benefit since April 2008.
LHA is usually paid straight into your bank account but we may be able to pay your LHA direct to your landlord if:
- you’ve managed to negotiate a lower rent with your landlord, and
- paying rent directly will help you to secure or retain the tenancy
- you're unable to manage the payment yourself, for example for health reasons
Our safeguard policy (56KB Word doc) outlines how we pay Local Housing Allowance to vulnerable people.
You can choose to have your benefit paid into your bank account or direct to your landlord if:
- you were claiming benefit before 7 April 2008, and have not moved or had a break in your claim
- you live in a caravan, mobile home or houseboat
- you live in bed and breakfast accommodation or a hostel
- your tenancy began before 15 January 1989, or
- you live in accommodation where you’re cared for, supported, or supervised, and your rent includes a charge for this service
Visit our Local Housing Allowance page to learn more about this.
For Housing Association tenants
We can pay your benefit into your bank account, or to your landlord.
Housing Benefit information for landlords Click to get info
Please see our information for landlords page for details of:
- what information we can give you about your tenant’s Housing Benefit
- how we pay Housing Benefit
- changes in circumstances you should tell us about
If you disagree with our decision Click to get info
If you disagree with our decision about your Housing Benefit, you must tell us within one month of the date of the decision letter.
You can use our online revision and appeal form to:
- ask for an explanation of how we calculated your benefit
- ask us to look at the decision again
- ask for an appeal hearing from the Tribunals Service
Extra help if you're struggling financially Click to get info
Paying back an overpayment for housing benefit Click to get info
Help from the Citizens Advice with Universal Credit Click to get info
Citizens Advice has trained advisers who can support anyone who needs help in the early stages of their Universal Credit claim – from the application through to the first full payment. Support is available online, over the phone and face to face.
0800 144 8 444 (England)
08000 241 220 (Wales)
Calls are free and lines are open 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.
Contact Click to get info
Help with completing forms Click to get info
If you don't have access to a computer, you can visit a Library Plus branch where you can use a self-service pc to log your request/report. Staff are available to support you if you need it.
Please make a note of the 10-character form reference in case you need to ask us something. You can also use this reference to go back to a partially completed form.
Once you have answered the questions on all of the pages, click ‘Show Errors’ to confirm that the form is complete. Any pages with errors or omissions will be shown. Click on the page number to go to that page where the issue will be highlighted.
You can attach any evidence required by clicking ‘Upload & Attach File’.
If you get stuck, and cannot submit the form, please use the ‘Contact Us’ option to send us a message. If you send us the form reference we will be able to help you more quickly.
Once any errors have been resolved you can securely submit the form by clicking ‘Submit’.
When we have received your form, you will see a confirmation message on your screen. We will send you an email to confirm receipt of your application.