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Housing benefit

What is housing benefit?

Housing benefit helps tenants on low incomes with their rent payments.

If your are working age and claiming for the first time you need to claim your housing costs through Universal Credit.

Who can claim?

You can apply for housing benefit whether you’re unemployed or working and you live in rented accommodation.

How is it worked out?

Housing benefit can pay for part or all of your rent. How much you get depends on your income and circumstances.

It is assessed by looking at your:

You will not be entitled to housing benefit if you have savings of over £16,000 (unless you are in receipt of Guaranteed Pension Credit).

You can work out how much benefit you may be entitled to using the benefits calculator.

From April 2018 the way housing benefit is calculated will be changing - find out more about the changes.

How do I claim?

Complete a housing benefit application form and send it in to us:

What proof is needed to assess my claim?

You will need to provide proof of some of the things you write about on your application including:

  • Proof of identity – passport, driving license
  • Proof of income for all members of the household
  • Tenancy agreement or proof of rent if you live in a Housing Association property or rent from a private landlord

A full list of the types of evidence required as proof is provided on page four of the notes for filling in a claim form, available above.

How long will it take?

Housing benefit will normally start from the Monday following receipt of your application.

To ensure your entitlement starts from the earliest possible date you should state your intention to claim by:

  • Email: housing.benefits@westlancs.gov.uk
  • Tel: 0300 7900380
  • Visit: our Customer Service Point at the Concourse, Skelmersdale (appointment required) or  at 52 Derby Street Ormskirk, L39 2DF
  • Write: Benefits Service, 52 Derby Street, Ormskirk, L39 2DF

Can a claim be backdated?

You can only ask for your claim to be backdated if there is a valid reason why you were unable to apply from an earlier date.

If you are of pensionable age special backdating rules apply. Housing benefit can be backdated for a minimum of three months from the date of your application or from the date that you or your partner became pensionable age if this is later.


If we pay you too much housing benefit we call it an 'overpayment'. If this happens we will send you a letter advising:

  • what caused the overpayment
  • the dates of the overpayment
  • how much the overpayment is
  • what to do if you disagree

If you are still getting housing benefit, we may reduce this each week by an agreed amount.

If you don't get housing benefit any more, we will invoice you. You can pay this invoice in a variety of ways  as listed below.

  • visit pay a bill
  • Call the automated overpayment recovery phone line on 01695 585150
  • Set up a standard order

If you have any queries in relation to repaying your overpayment you can contact the Overpayment Recovery Team on 01695 585063.

Appeal against a decision

After your claim has been assessed you will receive a letter explaining the information we have used to work out the amount of housing benefit.

If you disagree with our decision you have one calendar month to: