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Housing benefit

If you are on a low income, even if you are working, you may be able to get help with your rental costs. Find out more about the housing benefit scheme.

Housing Benefit payments have been replaced by Universal Credit in Wiltshire. This means couples, families and single people should claim Universal Credit unless one of the criteria below applies.

Visit Gov.uk to find out whether you will need to apply for Universal Credit instead of Housing Benefit.  

You can only make a new claim for Housing Benefit or Local Housing Allowance if:

  • You and your partner are of state pension age; or
  • You are living in specified accommodation or temporary accommodation (the Housing Benefit Team will determine if this is the case); or
  • You are entitled to a severe disability premium as part of one of the following benefits:
  • JSA(IB)
  • ESA(IR)     
  • Income Support
  • Housing Benefit.

Use the benefits calculator to find out if you qualify. The calculator can be used to assess entitlement to housing benefit and council tax reduction. It is only an estimate based on the information you supply.

Find out more about how the housing benefit scheme works.

If you believe you may be eligible for housing benefit, you can make a claim online


Use our housing benefit and council tax reduction e-form to make a claim.

At the completion of the e-form, you should ensure that you read the evidence checklist in the Housing Benefit download section. This will detail the information required to support your new claim, which must be provided within one month. Any delay in providing the evidence we ask for will delay your payment. Note we can only accept original evidence of identification, this can't be sent via email.

If you are unable to make a claim using the e-form, we can also accept telephone claims, please contact us on 0300 456 0110 to make a claim.


If you are a private tenant, we will use the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) to decide the maximum amount of housing benefit that we can pay you. It is based on the location and size of accommodation you require, rather than the rent that is being charged. The amount of housing benefit you will receive will depend on the LHA rate that is applied after also taking into account your financial and household circumstances.

How can I find the LHA that applies to me?

Use the LHA website to help you:

Circumstances where the Local Housing Allowance does not apply

  • You live in a property which is owned by the council.
  • You are a tenant of a Registered Social Landlord (this includes most housing associations).
  • You live in supported housing.
  • Your tenancy started before 15 January 1989.
  • You live in a caravan, houseboat or hostel.
  • The amount of housing benefit we will pay you is based upon your individual circumstances, so the actual amount you receive may be less than the LHA figure.

If you believe you may be eligible for Housing Benefit, you can make a claim online.


The amount of housing benefit you receive will depend on your personal circumstances, including your income, savings, who else lives in your household and the level of your rent.

Spare bedrooms

The amount of housing benefit you get could be reduced if you have one or more spare bedrooms. For people aged between 16 and Pension Credit eligibility age, if you are assessed as having at least one extra bedroom in your house, your housing benefit could be reduced.

How will my housing benefit be paid?

If you're a council tenant, any housing benefit will be paid direct to your rent account. As a housing association tenant, you can receive your housing benefit direct to your bank, four-weekly in arrears, or, you can opt for payments to be made direct to your landlord.

If you believe you may be eligible for Housing Benefit, you can make a claim online.


Tell us immediately if something changes

If there are any changes in your household or personal circumstances after you make an application for housing benefit and/or council tax reduction, you must let us know immediately. Don’t rely on someone else to tell us.

Rent changes

If you are notified of a rent change by your landlord, they will normally advise us of the change if your housing benefit is paid direct to them. However, if you have your benefit paid to yourself, you will need to let us know your rent is changing. Please see the section below detailing how you can provide proof of the change.

When you receive details of your housing benefit for April, please check to ensure that the rent used in the calculation is correct and if not, please contact us.

How to tell us about a change

The easiest way to let us know is to phone us on 0300 456 0110 and tell us what has changed. We will then be able to tell you if we need you to send us evidence of the change, or we might be able to change your claim without you needing to do anything else. If you are unable to phone us, see other ways you can contact us - see below.

Providing proof

When reporting a change of circumstance, you may need to provide proof of the change and when it happened.

You can provide proof:

  • By emailing your scanned documents to benefits@wiltshire.gov.uk.
    • Include your claim reference number or National Insurance number.
    • The document or photo should be less than 10mb in size.
  • In person
    • You can bring your documents and see one of our advisors.

If housing benefit or the housing element of universal credit does not meet the full value of your rent, we may be able to award a Discretionary Housing Payment. You can only apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment if you receive housing benefit or the housing element of universal credit.

The Discretionary Housing Payments scheme has a limited amount of money each year, and is therefore only awarded to customers with special circumstances. To find out more about the Discretionary Housing Payment, see our factsheet in the downloads section. You will also find an application form to apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment and, if you receive the housing element of universal credit, you will also need to complete the form. 


When we have dealt with your claim for housing benefit, we will send you a benefit decision notice. This notice will show the information we have used to work out your benefit. You should check this notice carefully. If you do not understand the notice, contact us immediately.

If you think that the decision is wrong, you should write to us within one calendar month of the date of the decision notice and ask us to reconsider the decision. You should also set out why you think that the decision is wrong. We will then review the decision and send you a new decision notice either confirming or amending the original decision.

If you wish to appeal to the Independent Appeals Tribunal, you must write to us within one calendar month of the date of the original decision notice, or, if you have already asked for a reconsideration, within one calendar month of the new decision notice. Any appeal must be completed in writing, be signed by you, and must set out the reasons why you think the decision is wrong. Be aware that it may be some months before your appeal is heard by the Independent Appeals Tribunal.


If you are still receiving housing benefit, the overpayment will be taken from your future housing benefit payments at a set rate. If you are not in receipt of housing benefit, you can pay it back online. Please have your invoice number with you. For other methods of payment, see the back of your invoice or see our how to pay factsheet.

If you are having difficulty paying the housing benefit overpayment, don’t ignore it; contact us.


We use the information you give us to process your claim for housing benefit, council tax reduction, or both.

We may check some of the information with other sources within the council, the Valuation Office Agency, other councils and government agencies, such as The Department for Work and Pensions, HM Revenues and Customs and the Home Office.

We may also get information about you from certain other organisations, or give them information about you, to:

  • Ensure the information is accurate
  • Prevent or detect crime
  • Protect public funds

These organisations include government departments, other local authorities, and private sector organisations such as banks and organisations that may lend you money.

Ensure you let us know of any change in your circumstances that may affect your claim. The council may pursue the collection of overpaid amounts through external bodies if necessary.


Report benefit fraud or call our 24 hour confidential hotline on 01249 706256.


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Last updated: 7 April 2020 | Last reviewed: 7 April 2020