Frequently Asked Questions for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction

Welcome to the Milton Keynes Council Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction area.  Here you can find all the information you need to know and contact details for the benefits department.

Who can claim Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction?

Housing Benefit is available to those who are on a low income and need help with paying rent on their home. 

Only people in certain groups can make a new claim for Housing Benefit.  Everyone else will need to claim Universal Credit.

You can still make a new claim for Housing Benefit if,

  • You are receiving Pension Credit
  • You are single and pension age
  • You are a member of a couple and you are both pension age 
  • You live in a hostel, supported accommodation, a refuge or temporary emergency homeless accommodation, you will need to claim Housing Benefit as well as Universal Credit.

People who are already receiving Housing Benefit will stay on Housing Benefit until their situation changes.

Council Tax Reduction is available to people on a low income who need help towards their Council Tax bill.

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How do I claim Housing or Council Tax benefits?

To make a claim for Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Reduction fill in our self serve claim form online.

What is Local Housing Allowance (LHA)?

Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is the maximum amount of help that you can claim from Housing Benefit or Universal Credit if you pay rent to a private landlord. It is based on the area the customer lives, number of occupiers in the property and household size. 

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Who isn't eligible for Benefits?

You can't usually get Housing Benefit if:

  • you have savings of over £16,000, unless you are over pension age and getting the 'guarantee credit' of Pension Credit
  • you live in the home of a close relative
  • you're a full-time student (unless you're disabled or have children)
  • you're an asylum seeker or are sponsored to be in the UK

Other restrictions

If you live with a partner or civil partner only one of you can get Housing Benefit.

If you're single and aged under 35 you can only get Housing Benefit for bed-sit accommodation or one room in shared accommodation.

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Where can I receive help to fill out my benefit form?

The best way to receive help with your benefits form is to telephone the Benefits helpline 01908 253100. The Benefits Service is open from 9:00am until 5:15pm Monday to Friday

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When does my benefit start?

Once your claim has been processed, your Benefit will usually start on the Monday after we receive your completed claim form.

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How will my Housing Benefit be paid?

If you rent your home from the Council, we will credit any benefit to your rent account once a week.

If you rent from a private landlord or letting agent we will usually pay you every two weeks in arrears direct into your bank account or in some cases by cheque. If you rent your home from a Housing Association we can pay your rent to you or your landlord by Bacs or in some cases by cheque. The Council may pay your benefit to your landlord without your consent if your landlord has proved, to the Council’s satisfaction, that your rent is more than 8 weeks in arrears. If you want your Housing Benefit paid directly to you then you will need a bank account. Access to more information about basic bank accounts.

Still confused? Call the Benefits Service for further help.

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I am having trouble paying my rent, is there any other financial help I can get?

If you are having difficulty paying your rent and/or Council Tax, you may be able to claim extra help. This is called a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP). This can only be paid to people who are already receiving either Housing Benefit or help with their rent through Universal Credit.

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If my rent is charged monthly can my Benefit be paid monthly?

We currently pay housing Benefit in intervals of 2 weekly in arrears or 4 weekly in arrears, (4 weekly is not the same as monthly). To work out your weekly rent charged we calculate your monthly rent x 12 months and then divide this by the number of weeks your rent is charged, usually 52 but this may be different for rents that have rent free weeks.

For Example: Monthly Rent charged 650.00, if you were entitled to full benefit your weekly entitlement would be £650.0 x 12 months, divided by 52 weeks = £150.00 per week this would be paid as £300.00 every two weeks or £600.00 every 4 weeks.

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How is my Council Tax Reduction paid?

Any Council Tax Reduction will be paid directly into your Council Tax account and you will receive a reduced bill.

What can I do if I disagree with a decision about my Housing Benefit claim?

If you are not happy with a decision made about your Benefit, then you have various options.

You can:

  • Ask for an explanation of the decision. You can do this in person, in writing or by phone
  • Request a written statement of reasons for the decision. This can help you with your decision to appeal. This request must be in writing and signed by you and must be made within one month of the date on the decision notice
  • Ask us to look at the decision again This request must be in writing and signed by you and must be made within one month of the date on the decision notice
  • Print off and complete the Application to Appeal form in the Appeal Leaflet

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What happens to my benefit if I go away or move abroad?

All the information about claiming benefits in Europe and claiming benefits whilst travelling abroad.

You must tell us if you are going to be abroad for 4 weeks of more.

In most cases you are not entitled to Housing Benefit or a Council Tax Reduction from the day you leave the UK if you plan to be out of the country for 4 weeks or more. The day you leave the UK counts as day 1 of your absence.  

You are committing benefit fraud if you do not tell us that you are going abroad, even if it is just for a visit.

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My circumstances have changed since I last told you, what should I do?

If you are receiving Benefit/Reduction and your circumstances have changed then you must let us know  to make sure that you don’t lose out on any payments. 

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What is Extended Payment of Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction?

Extended Payment of Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction is an extra four weeks of Housing Benefit to help pay rent when certain other benefits stop because you’re going back to work, working more hours or earning more money.

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How can I apply for Backdated Benefit?

If you think you have a good reason for making a late claim, please write to the Housing Benefits Service as soon as possible. You must state clearly that you wish to apply for your benefit to be backdated, how far back you wish us to consider backdating your claim and your reason for not claiming earlier. Any backdated benefit is calculated on your circumstances and the Benefit rules, which applied over the backdating period. If your circumstances changed over that period you may be asked to fill in another benefit claim form.

Maximum period for which a claim can be backdated.

For working age customers, the benefit rules state that benefit cannot be backdated for more than 4 weeks for Housing Benefit and 6 months for a Council Tax Reduction, from the date we received your written request for backdating, even if you had a good reason for not claiming earlier. 

For customers who are Pension Credit Age backdating is limited to 3 months.

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Can I get any extra help with my rent?

If you are having difficulty paying your rent, and or, Council Tax, you may be able to claim extra help. This is called a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP).

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Can I get help with deposits or rent in advance?

The Council’s Homeless Prevention Team will be able to give you advice on finding another property. If you are having difficulty moving they may be able to help you with a deposit bond to secure new accommodation or if you are receiving Housing Benefit or getting help with your rent through Universal Credit, recommend a Discretionary Housing Payment for a deposit, removal cost or rent in advance.

I am not happy with the service I have received how can I make a complaint?

If you wish to make a comment, complaint or compliment about the Council you need to know the ​different ways to make a complaint.

Hard copy forms are available from our main offices. If you wish to receive a copy by post please telephone 01908 691691.

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What happens if I have been overpaid Housing or Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction?

If you have been overpaid Housing Benefit or a Council Tax Reduction we will normally want that money repaid. We will write about the overpayment telling you:

  • The reason for the overpayment
  • How much you have been overpaid
  • What period the overpayment relates to
  • Whether the overpayment will be recovered and how

 Further information about overpaid Housing Benefit

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Can I pay my Council Tax over the phone?

Yes, you can call 01908 253940 for our 24-hour automated service.

You can also pay via the Milton Keynes Council Website and select Online Council Tax Payments. Then simply enter your Council Tax reference number, the amount you want to pay, followed by your card payment details.

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I am a student can I claim Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction?

Some students may be entitled to Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction, please read the leaflet students claiming housing benefit (PDF, 3.7MB)​ for further advice.

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Last Updated: 4 May 2022