Your benefit notification letters explained

Your housing benefit and council tax support notification letters explain how much housing benefit and council tax support you get, and how this has been worked out.

You can receive your future letters quicker by signing up to paperless notifications.

We send you a new letter every time there is a change to the amount of housing benefit and council tax support you get.

Sometimes your letter will show different amounts for different periods where your benefit has changed due to changes in your circumstances, for example if your income has gone up or down.

What you need to do 

You need to carefully check each page of the letter to make sure the information we are using to work out your award is correct. This is very important as if your details are wrong and we pay you too much, we may ask you to repay any amount overpaid. If any of your details are wrong, contact us straight away.

If you pay council tax, the bill sent to you is based on this assessment and so any balance left to pay should be paid as stated on the bill. If your bill says ‘direct debit’, the instalments will be collected from your bank account.

If you rent your home from the council, your housing benefit will be credited to your rent account. If you don’t rent your home from the council we will pay any housing benefit as stated in the letter.

If something is going to change soon

Please tell us just before the change happens. You can use the online change of circumstances form to do this. We will also need to see proof of your new circumstances.

You don’t need to tell us about changes to the amount of council tax you have to pay or, if you are a council tenant, changes to your rent.

If you disagree with our decision 

An explanation of some of the words in your letter

Applicable amount

Your applicable amount is the amount of money that the government says you need to cover basic living costs each week. This doesn’t include rent and council tax and it depends on your individual circumstances. The amount changes every year with inflation.

We compare your income to your applicable amount to work out how much benefit you get. The higher your income is above your applicable amount, the less benefit you will get.

If you get Employment and Support Allowance (income-related), Income Support, Jobseeker’s allowance (income-based) or Pension Credit guaranteed credit, we don’t use an applicable amount to work out your housing benefit and council tax support.

Gross weekly income

Your gross weekly income is all the money you get per week.

Your total weekly income used is the income we use to work out how much housing benefit and council tax support you get. The higher your income is above your applicable amount, the less benefit you will get.

Disregarded income

Disregarded income is money you get that we don’t count when we work out your benefit.

Excess income

Your excess income is the amount of income you have over your applicable amount.

Non-dependant deduction

A non-dependant is normally any adult who lives with you who is not your partner. In some cases we make a deduction from your housing benefit and council tax support to represent the contribution the government expects them to make to your household. This is called a non-dependant deduction.

The non-dependant deduction is taken from the maximum housing benefit and council tax support before we work out how much help we can give you with the remaining amount.

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