Benefit Decision Letters Explained
If you have received a housing benefits and council tax reduction letter and you’re not sure what it all means, let us help to make it clear.
We have created these videos to explain the letters you receive as well as the common words or phrases you may come across in them.
If you need any further help or advice, please contact us or read our frequently asked questions about benefit decision (entitlement) letters at the bottom of this page.
Housing benefit and council tax reduction letters explained
Pip, from our Customer Services team, takes you through what you will find on your housing benefit award and council tax reduction letters.
Pip helps you understand some of the commonly used words and phrases you'll find in our letters.
- If you get help with your council tax, this is based on the amount of council tax charged. Every year the council tax levels are reviewed, and as there is an increase to the charge this year we have to reassess your award. If your council tax reduction award changes, we have to tell you about this by letter.
- We have to do this even if you are of pension age and you qualify for full council tax reduction and so don’t have to pay council tax. You will still get a bill if this is the case. This is how the council tax service tells you that you have nothing to pay.
- If your rent changes in April we have to reassess your housing benefit. If your housing benefit changes, we have to tell you about this by letter.
- For some people who get council tax reduction or housing benefit, their award is based on a means test. Part of the means test is the applicable amount. Every year the figures that are used in calculating the applicable amount change and we have to tell you about this by letter.
- For those people whose awards are based on a means test, some of the incomes we use in that test may change in April. If this affects your award we have to tell you about this by letter.
- write to the Benefits Service and ask for a detailed statement as to how we arrived at the decision detailed in your notification letter. You must do this within one calendar month of the date of your letter, or
- write to the Benefits Service stating why you disagree with the decision. You need to clearly state what you disagree with about our decision and why. We will look at your entitlement again and write to you. If you still disagree with the decision, or we have not dealt with your appeal within two months, you can appeal directly to the independent Valuation Tribunal. For further information visit the Valuation Tribunal website
- write to the Benefits Service and ask for a detailed statement as to how we arrived at the decision detailed in your notification letter, or
- write to the Benefits Service and ask us to look at your claim again, or
- write to the Benefits Service and appeal against the decision. You need to clearly state what you disagree with about our decision and why. We will look at our decision again. If the decision is wrong we will change it and send you a new decision letter. If we can’t change the decision, or if we
- change our decision but not in your favour, you can then appeal to the Tribunals Service
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 you are in receipt of Universal Credit, please visit our Universal Credit page for information on how your Housing Element is paid.