Benefits - FAQ's

Frequently Asked Questions
I’m on a low income, can I get help to pay my rent?

If you are on a low-income you may be able to apply for Housing Benefit or Universal Credit to help you with paying your rent. If you would like support to help understand if you’re eligible, please contact us.

I’m not moving in to my new home immediately. Will I get help with my rent?

We begin charging rent from the day your tenancy starts, and most people can’t get help with rent until they have moved in to their new home. If you plan to move into your home at a later date, you need to make sure that you have enough money to cover your rent payments until then.

Can I get my benefit claim backdated?

Universal Credit and Housing Benefit claims are rarely backdated. To make sure you don’t miss out on any benefits payments you are entitled to you should make your claim as soon as possible, please contact us if you need support making a claim.

Who can claim Housing Benefit?

Housing Benefit is mainly for single people and couples who are over pensionable age. However, under some special circumstances people of working age may also be able to claim this.

We can help you understand what benefits you are entitled to and also help you to apply for them, please contact us to receive this support.

If you were already receiving Housing Benefit from Durham County Council before you moved homes, you may still be entitled to this. If you would like to speak to one of our Welfare Benefit Advisers for more information and to avoid losing money, please contact us.

How do I claim Housing Benefit?

To make a claim for Housing Benefit you must visit Durham County Council’s website at https://www.durham.gov.uk/calculator. Alternatively, you can contact them by telephone on 03000 262000.

If you already receive Housing Benefit and you are moving home, you must report the change of address to Durham County Council as soon as possible. You can report the change of circumstances by visiting their website or by telephone by calling 03000 26 2000.

If you are moving to County Durham from a different local authority area, it is highly likely that you will need to claim Universal Credit instead. Please contact us if you would like us to support you with this.

Who can claim Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is for single people of working age, and couples with at least one working age partner.

If you currently receive benefits like ESA or JSA and you also get Personal Independence Payment, it is very important to get advice before making a claim for Universal Credit to avoid losing money. Please contact us and we will help you with this.

How do I claim Universal Credit?

If you are already in receipt of other benefits, we recommend that you get advice from us before you make a claim for Universal Credit.

To make a Universal Credit claim you must visit the Government website at https://www.universal-credit.service.gov.uk. If you have any issues which prevent you from managing an online claim, you must ring the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644.

Alternatively, you can also get help from the Citizens Advice Universal Credit Help to Claim Service by calling 0800 144 8 444.

How is Universal Credit paid?

Universal Credit is usually paid to you in one monthly payment. This includes an amount to cover your rent, but however does not cover your water rates and some service charges.

You will be responsible for paying the housing costs element of your Universal Credit, and any top ups which are likely to be due to us. Find out more about the different ways you can pay your rent.

I already get Universal Credit. How do I let Universal Credit know my new address so I don’t lose money?

You can log into your online Universal Credit account and report any change of circumstances in there. You will be asked how much rent you pay and how often, and you will also need to provide your new address details and confirm that we are your landlord.

How do I get help with my Council Tax?

If you are on a low income, a Council Tax Reduction can be claimed at the same time as your Housing Benefit. It is not part of any Universal Credit award, so it is important that you make a claim for this separately with Durham County Council by visiting their website. Alternatively, you can contact them by telephone by calling 03000 26 2000.

If you would like more information or help with a claim, our friendly Welfare Benefit Advisors would love to help. Please contact us and we will get back to you.

If I have a spare room will I loose money due to bedroom tax?

If you have a spare bedroom, it may be possible that you are receiving less Housing Benefit or Universal Credit for your housing costs. This is also known as the under-occupancy charge or the Spare Room Subsidy, you may be affected even if people are use the spare bedroom. Please contact us if you would like us to check if you are currently affected.

How many bedrooms does the government say someone in my circumstances needs?

One bedroom is allowed for:

  • A single person or an adult couple
  • Any other adult aged 16 years or over (such as a son or daughter)
  • One child, or two children under the age of 10 year if they are different sexes
  • Two children under the age of 16 years if they are the same sex
  • A son or daughter who is at university but intends to return home (providing they do not have a main home elsewhere)
  • A son or daughter in the Armed Forces who intends to return home (providing they do not have a main home elsewhere)

It may be possible to have more bedrooms allowed in some cases:

  • If two children are unable to share a room due to disability and a qualifying benefit is in payment
  • If an adult couple are unable to share a room due to disability and a qualifying benefit is in payment
  • A non-resident carer, who must stay on a regular basis, usually if a qualifying benefit is in payment, or a health professional confirms this
  • You are an approved foster carer but do not have a child currently placed with you (for up to 52 weeks)
How much is the bedroom tax?

If you have spare bedrooms, your maximum housing costs will be reduced by 14% for 1 bedroom, and 25% for 2 or more bedrooms. You are expected to pay this charge yourself, please contact us if you feel like you may be affected.

I am a pensioner; will the bedroom tax affect me?

If you, and your partner if you have one, are both over pension age, you will not be affected by the bedroom tax.

If you have a partner and one of you is over pension age but the other is not, you may be affected by the bedroom tax.

If you have any questions or would like us to check your benefits by speaking to one of our Welfare Benefits Advisors, simply contact us.