RATES HouSing BEnEfiT AnD RATE REliEf Guidance notes for

RATES Housing Benefit
AND Rate Relief
Guidance notes for CLAIM FORM
If you need this form in a different language or format, please contact us.
About RATES Housing Benefit and Rate Relief
•Rates Housing Benefit and Rate Relief are means-tested benefits which provide help for owneroccupiers (including pensioners) who are on benefits or a low income to pay their rate bill. These
schemes are administered by Land & Property Services. This means your circumstances
(for example, how much your rates cost; your total income and savings; and other people who live
with you) are considered to work out how much help you can get.
•Housing Benefit is a UK-wide statutory benefit (and is broadly equivalent to Council Tax Benefit in
mainland UK). These schemes for help with rates are administered by Land & Property Services
(LPS) if you own and live in your home.
•Rate Relief applies only in Northern Ireland.
Other help available through Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE)
You may be eligible for Housing Benefit and/or Rate Relief from NIHE if:
•You do not own your property;
•You are a tenant;
•You are paying rent;
•You are buying your home through the Co-Ownership or a rental purchase scheme; or
•Ownership of the property has transferred to someone else and legally you are no longer the owner,
but you still have a right to live there (this is often referred to as ‘having your day in the property’).
Contact NIHE on telephone number 0344 892 0902.
Introduction
•This guidance booklet will help you complete the application form.
•You should answer all sections unless advised otherwise.
•You will need to send us some evidence to support your claim. Please note we will accept good
quality photocopies of any evidence supplied.
•If you run out of space on the form, you should attach a separate page if necessary. Please note
the section number beside each piece of additional information.
RATES HOUSING BENEFIT AND RATE RELIEF — GUIDANCE NOTES FOR CLAIM FORM (1.0)
Page 1 of 12
How to use this guidance booklet:
•Where you see the i icon within the form it shows there is more information available in the
relevant section of this booklet.
•Where you see the e icon within the form it shows that you must supply evidence. Details of the
types of evidence you must supply are contained in the relevant section of this booklet.
•Each question in each section is numbered. You should use this number to direct you to the correct
section in this guidance booklet.
•For each section in the booklet, we will list the information points indicated on the form.
Following this, we will list the types of evidence you must send us.
Section 1 – About you and Your home
LPS only deals with owner-occupiers therefore you must confirm that you live in and own the property
you are claiming for.
Remember:
•Do not complete the form if you do not own your home or if you are buying it through either the
Co-Ownership or rental purchase schemes.
•Joint owners who wish to claim rates Housing Benefit or Rate Relief must complete a separate form.
i
INFORMATION
1.2
Co-Ownership/Rental
purchase scheme
These schemes help those on a low income get on the property
ladder; allowing them to buy a share of a property and rent the
remainder. Find out more via www.nidirect.gov.uk/equity-sharing
1.4
Joint owner
If you own the property jointly with someone other than
your partner. (The claimant and their partner are treated as 1 unit
for our purposes.)
You must each apply separately for rates Housing Benefit and
Rate Relief, and you must tell us what proportion you own (1.4d).
1.4d
Proportion owned by
joint owners
You must specify for yourself and your partner, and for each
additional joint owner, for example, one third; one quarter;
50% etc.
For liability purposes you and your partner are treated as
one person. (For example, if you and your partner own your home
jointly with your son in equals shares of 50% each we would treat
this as 2 owners. You and your partner own 50% and your son
owns 50%).
1.5
Rate Relief
As Housing Benefit is a statutory benefit it will always be
assessed first. You can choose not to be assessed for Rate
Relief if you wish, but you must indicate this on Section 1.5
(page 2) of your form or let us know within one calendar month
of submitting your application. If you choose not to be assessed
for Rate Relief you may lose additional help you might otherwise
have been entitled to.
RATES HOUSING BENEFIT AND RATE RELIEF — GUIDANCE NOTES FOR CLAIM FORM (1.0)
Page 2 of 12
Section 2 – YOU AND YOUR PARTNER
People living in your home may affect your entitlement to rates Housing Benefit and Rate Relief.
i
INFORMATION
2.5
National Insurance
Number
You pay National Insurance contributions to build up your
entitlement to certain state benefits, including the State Pension.
The contributions you pay depend on how much you earn and
whether you’re employed or self-employed.
Example of a National Insurance number: AB 99 99 99 C
If you’ve lost or can’t remember your number, you might be able
to find it on official paperwork like:
•Your P60 (end of year tax statement, given to you by your
employer);
•A copy of your annual Self Assessment tax return; or
•You can also contact the National Insurance Registrations
Helpline on 0845 915 7006.
You must have a National Insurance number to be eligible to claim.
If you do not have a National Insurance number you should contact
the Social Security Agency to request one. If your partner is a
foreign national, they must also have a National Insurance number
or be able to provide evidence that they have requested one.
2.7
Are you registered
blind?
If you are registered blind with the Health and Social Services
Board you may qualify for the disability premium which may mean
you will be entitled to more help with paying your rates.
If you require this guidance booklet or a copy of the application
form in another language or format (for example, braille, large
print etc) please contact us on 0300 200 7801. Please also
tell us if you require all future correspondence issued in the
same format.
2.8
Are you currently in
hospital?
If you are absent from your home because you are in hospital
you can continue to claim rates Housing Benefit and Rate Relief
for up to 13 weeks.
2.9
Are you currently in a
nursing home?
If you are trying out a nursing home you can continue to get
rates Housing Benefit and/or Rate Relief for 13 weeks.
This period can be extended to a maximum of 52 weeks if
you are in hospital or having respite or other medically approved
care in a nursing home, but only if you intend to return to your
own home.
2.10
Are you currently in
prison?
If you are absent from your home because you are in prison on
remand, you can continue to claim rates Housing Benefit and
Rate Relief for up to 52 weeks or until you are sentenced.
2.11
Are you a full-time
student?
Most students cannot claim rates Housing Benefit or Rate Relief
but there are some exceptions. For a list of these exceptions
visit www.nidirect.gov.uk/rates or call us on 0300 200 7802 for
more information.
RATES HOUSING BENEFIT AND RATE RELIEF — GUIDANCE NOTES FOR CLAIM FORM (1.0)
Page 3 of 12
Section 3 – DEPENDANT CHILDREN
Your dependant children and the benefit(s), if any, you receive for them will impact on the amount of
rates Housing Benefit and Rates Relief you are entitled to.
i
INFORMATION
3.4
National Insurance
Number
Provide this number if known. If not, do not worry as your claim
will not be adversely affected.
3.6
Are they blind?
If you have a dependant child that is registered blind you may
qualify for the disability premium which may mean you will be
entitled to more help with paying your rates.
3.7
Do they receive
Disability Living
Allowance?
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is a tax-free benefit for disabled
children and adults to help with extra costs you may have.
If your child is disabled you will qualify for the disabled child
premium which may mean you will be entitled to more help with
paying your rates.
Section 4 – OTHER PEOPLE LIVING IN YOUR HOM
vE
eryone in your household affects your entitlement to rates Housing Benefit and Rate Relief.
Remember:
•All adults and young people (over 16) in your household, for whom you do not receive Child Benefit,
are known as non-dependants.
•You should also include any children, under 16, for whom you do not receive Child Benefit.
These are known as non-dependant children.
•Joint owners who wish to claim rates Housing Benefit or Rate Relief must complete a separate
application.
i
INFORMATION
Non-dependants
The government expects adult non-dependants to contribute
towards the cost of your household bills. In some circumstances
some money will be deducted from your weekly benefit depending
on the non-dependant’s gross earnings. This money will be
deducted whether you receive any money from them or not.
There are some exceptions to this, for example if:
•You receive Disability Living Allowance (Care); or
•You receive Attendance Allowance; or
•You or your partner are blind; or
•The non-dependant is a full-time student.
4.6
Are they a joint owner?
If you own the property jointly with someone other than
your partner:
•You must each apply separately for rates Housing Benefit
and Rate Relief, and you must tell us what proportion
you own (1.4d).
RATES HOUSING BENEFIT AND RATE RELIEF — GUIDANCE NOTES FOR CLAIM FORM (1.0)
Page 4 of 12
e REQUIRED EVIDENCE
4.5
Tenants/boarders
One of the following:
•Copy of signed/dated rental agreement showing terms
(for example, if meals/heating are included); or
•Copy of bank statement showing Standing Order for
rent incoming; or
•Letter from tenant/boarder confirming the amount they pay
you and how often they pay.
4.7
Are they a full-time
student?
Evidence of student status such as:
•A copy of student card; or
•A copy of student fee invoice; or
•A copy of student loan/grant/bursary award letter.
A copy of your benefit award letter.
4.9
4.10a
What are their
weekly earnings?
One recent payslip showing gross and net wages.
4.11a
Do they have any other
income?
A copy of supporting documentation (for example, evidence of
Child Maintenance, Child Benefit, savings).
Section 5 – YOUR BENEFITS
The type and amount of income you receive is very important. You must tell us about all sources of
income for you and your partner (if you have one).
Remember:
•If you are in receipt of a passport benefit you do not need to complete all sections of this form.
Please go to Section 12 – Backdating.
•If you have non-dependants living with you for whom a deduction applies, the relevant deduction will
still be taken from your rates Housing Benefit entitlement, even if you are in receipt of a passport
benefit. You will receive a bill. This cannot be covered by Rate Relief.
You must supply evidence of all sources of income for you and your partner. If you do not know what
types of evidence to send us, please contact us on 0300 200 7802 for advice.
i
INFORMATION
5.1
Passport Benefits
Income Support, Job Seeker’s Allowance (Income Based),
Pension Credit (Guarantee) and Employment and Support
Allowance (Income Related) are known as passport benefits
because they can ‘passport’ or fast-track you to automatic
entitlement to other help, such as rates Housing Benefit.
The amount of passport benefit you receive is not important
when assessing your rates Housing Benefit.
5.2
Disability Living
Allowance
5.3
Attendance Allowance
The amount you receive is not counted as income. However, we
still need to know what rate you get as you may qualify for extra
help with paying your rates.
RATES HOUSING BENEFIT AND RATE RELIEF — GUIDANCE NOTES FOR CLAIM FORM (1.0)
Page 5 of 12
5.5
Carer’s Allowance
If you are a carer you may be entitled to extra help. In 2011,
the Northern Ireland Assembly introduced a 20% increase in
the carer premium for Rate Relief which may mean you will be
entitled to more help with paying your rates.
5.6
Non-passport benefits
The benefits listed in this section do not lead to automatic
entitlement. The amount of money you receive is important to
your rates Housing Benefit and Rate Relief calculations.
Non-passport benefits are any other benefits received, except
the four listed in the passport benefits definition above.
They may or may not be means-tested.
5.6a
If you are unsure of the
benefits you receive
check with the Social
Security Agency (SSA)
You should contact your local SSA office; contact details can be
found at www.nidirect.gov.uk/wtfu.pdf
Fostering Allowance/
Guardian's Allowance
The amount of allowance you receive is fully disregarded from
your rates Housing Benefit and Rate Relief assessment.
5.6c
5.6d
If you are a pensioner you should contact the Pension Service:
Application Line: 0808 100 6165 (freephone)
Enquiry Line: 0845 601 8821 (Monday to Friday 9am–5pm)
e REQUIRED EVIDENCE
5.6e
5.6f
Child/Spousal
Maintenance
•Letter confirming amounts paid and how often they are paid; or
•Bank statement showing the amounts paid into account; or
•Letter from court or other official body confirming amounts
paid and how often they are paid.
5.6g
5.6h
Industrial Injuries
Disablement Benefit
or Pension
•Copy of your most recent entitlement letter.
Adoption Allowance
•Award letter from the agency confirming amount.
•Bank statement showing regular payments.
•Bank statement showing payments.
5.6l
Steps to Work
Letter from the SSA confirming participation in the scheme.
5.6n
5.7
Reduced Earnings
Allowance and any
other benefit not noted
Copy of your most recent entitlement letter.
Section 6 – OTHER INCOME
All sources of your household income may affect your entitlement to rates Housing Benefit and
Rate Relief.
Remember: Pensions are also counted as income for rates Housing Benefit and Rate Relief purposes.
You must supply evidence of all private or occupational/former employment pensions you receive.
RATES HOUSING BENEFIT AND RATE RELIEF — GUIDANCE NOTES FOR CLAIM FORM (1.0)
Page 6 of 12
i
INFORMATION
6.2
Do you receive income
•Annuity: This is a lump sum invested with an insurance
from an annuity or home
company which pays you a regular amount of money.
income plan?
This money is counted as income.
•Home Income Plan: A loan taken out using your home as
security, with the money invested as an annuity, from which
you receive a regular amount of money. This money is counted
as income.
•Equity Release: A loan taken out against the value of
your property, paid by the lender at regular intervals.
This money is counted in your rates Housing Benefit and
Rate Relief calculation.
6.3
Do you receive any
charitable or voluntary
payments from a
trust fund?
For example:
•Payments from a benevolent fund or other charitable
organisation; or
•Payments from a trust fund held in your name.
e REQUIRED EVIDENCE
6.1
6.1f
All private or
occupational/
former employment/
service pensions
•An advice note showing your gross and net payments; or
Have you put off
receiving the State
Retirement Pension?
A letter from the Pension Service, confirming the dates and
terms of your deferment.
•A letter from the pension provider.
We cannot accept a P60 as proof of your Occupational Pension.
If you had chosen to defer your pension and have received a
lump sum payment, you must also provide evidence of this, so
we know not to count it when assessing your rates Housing
Benefit and Rate Relief entitlement. If you fail to provide
evidence of income, your benefit or relief may be affected.
Section 7 – Employed earnings
If you and/or your partner work, you must tell us about each job. We need to know how many hours
you work and how often you get paid because this information will affect your entitlement.
Remember:
•You must supply evidence of all earned income for you and your partner. This should be in the form
of your most recent printed payslips.
i
INFORMATION
7.2
Employed Earnings
If you or your partner have more than one job, please tell us
about your first or main job on your form, then continue on a
separate sheet if necessary.
RATES HOUSING BENEFIT AND RATE RELIEF — GUIDANCE NOTES FOR CLAIM FORM (1.0)
Page 7 of 12
e REQUIRED EVIDENCE
Employed earnings
7
You must provide the most recent and consecutive payslips.
If you are on Statutory Sick Pay or Statutory Maternity Pay you
must provide your most recent payslips.
The number of payslips you must supply depends on how often
you get paid:
Frequency
Number of payslips required
Monthly/4-weekly/less often
2
Fortnightly
3
Weekly
5
Important: we cannot accept handwritten payslips or pay
envelopes, or a P60 as proof of your earnings.
If you do not have printed payslips, you must provide either:
•A completed Statement of Earnings; or
•A signed and dated letter from your employer.
Statement of Earnings: Download a copy from
www.nidirect.gov.uk/rates or we can send you a copy on request.
Call the Housing Benefit Helpline: 0300 200 7802
Letter from your employer: Should be on headed paper, detailing
the following information:
•Employer’s name and address;
•Date you started working for them;
•Number of hours you work per week;
•Your gross and net earnings; and
•The amount (if any) you pay towards your occupational
pension/superannuation scheme.
7.3c
Hours worked weekly
If you are on Statutory Sick Pay or Statutory Maternity Pay please
include the hours you normally work.
Section 8 – Self Employed Earnings
If you, or your partner, are self-employed you must tell us about your earnings.
Remember: You must tell us about each business you own or are a director of.
i
INFORMATION
8.2
Childminder
If you, or your partner, are a childminder we need to know about
this because there are different rules for assessing the income
of a childminder.
RATES HOUSING BENEFIT AND RATE RELIEF — GUIDANCE NOTES FOR CLAIM FORM (1.0)
Page 8 of 12
e REQUIRED EVIDENCE
Self-Employed
earnings/income
8
You should supply:
•A copy of your most recent annual accounts of
self-employment; or
•A completed Self-Employed Worksheet.
Annual Accounts: Should be compiled by an accountant.
Self-Employed Worksheet: Download a copy from
www.nidirect.gov.uk/rates or we can send you a copy on request.
Call Housing Benefit Helpline: 0300 200 7802.
Important: we cannot accept handwritten payslips or pay
envelopes, or a P60 as proof of your earnings.
8.1a
Director of a limited
company
If you are a director of a limited company (registered with
Companies House) you should send us payslips as above, or a
letter from your accountant confirming your employed earnings.
The letter should also confirm any share/capital interest you
have in the company, and any income/drawings you receive in
this regard.
Section 9 – Bank Accounts and Investments
If you and your partner have any savings or other capital, it may affect your entitlement to rates
Housing Benefit and Rate Relief.
Remember: You are allowed to have some savings or capital before it is considered when assessing
your entitlement to rates Housing Benefit and Rate Relief. The amount disregarded depends on your age.
i
INFORMATION
9
Savings
Any money held by you and your partner in any bank, building
society, savings scheme (for example, Credit Union, Presbyterian
Mutual Society etc), the Post Office etc.
Capital
Premium Bonds, shares, savings certificates or additional
property or land (in this country or abroad) are all considered to
be part of your capital. Please refer to Section 11 of the form to
tell us about any additional property and/or land you and/or your
partner own.
Maximum savings/
income
There is a maximum amount you are allowed to have and still be
eligible for rates Housing Benefit and Rates Relief:
Category
Under
pension age
Pension age
Disregarded capital
£6,000
£10,000
Upper limit for Housing Benefit £16,000
£16,000
Upper limit for Rate Relief
£50,000
RATES HOUSING BENEFIT AND RATE RELIEF — GUIDANCE NOTES FOR CLAIM FORM (1.0)
£16,000
Page 9 of 12
e REQUIRED EVIDENCE
9.1
(a–h)
Your account(s):
You must send (for each account held) a copy of your most
current/building society/ recent statement(s) showing transactions covering at least the
bank deposit/Post Office) past two months.
9.1f
Premium Bonds
A copy of your Premium Bonds showing the amount held.
9.2
Investments
A copy of your share portfolio or share certificates showing the
number of shares held in each company.
9.3
Savings Certificates
A copy of your savings certificates showing the amount held.
Section 10 – Expenses
If you, or your partner, make payments towards third level (college or university) education fees,
or to an approved childminder, this may be taken into consideration when assessing your rates
Housing Benefit and Rate Relief.
Remember: You must supply evidence of the amounts you pay to the college or university for fees.
e REQUIRED EVIDENCE
10.1
Fees for third level
education
•A receipt detailing the amount you paid and the date payment
was made; or
•A letter from the college or university confirming the amount
paid, the date payment was made, and the period covered by
the payment.
Important: In most cases, any payments you make towards
living expenses, rent, etc, cannot be considered.
10.2
10.3
Childminding fees (to
approved childminders)
You must provide evidence of how much you pay for each child,
and how often.
You must also supply evidence that the childcare is approved,
for example:
•A copy of the childminder’s registration certificate; or
•If the childcare is approved for Tax Credit purposes, a copy
of your most recent Tax Credit entitlement letter (all pages)
detailing the childcare and any payments of Working Tax Credit
(Childcare Element) received.
The maximum amount of money that can be disregarded for
childcare is £175 per week for one child, or £300 per week for
two or more children.
Section 11 – Property and Land (OTHER THAN YOUR HOME)
You must tell us if you or your partner own any additional property and/or land, other than your home.
You must provide evidence.
Remember:
•You must tell us what type of property it is (for example, house, shop, caravan, garage, farm etc),
the address of the property, and if you own it jointly with anyone else.
•If it is land, you must tell us whether the land adjoins your home. If it does not, please tell us
the address.
RATES HOUSING BENEFIT AND RATE RELIEF — GUIDANCE NOTES FOR CLAIM FORM (1.0)
Page 10 of 12
e REQUIRED EVIDENCE
11.2
Is there a mortgage,
charge, or other
encumbrance on the
property or land?
You must also supply evidence of the amount of this, for
example, a copy of your most recent annual mortgage statement
and/or other official documentation detailing the charge or
encumbrance. This should include the address of the additional
property or land in question.
11.2a
Property and land
You must provide:
•The folio number of the property/land; or
•A map showing the boundaries. You can obtain this from
Land & Property Services.
11.5a
11.7a
Is property rented out?
You must supply evidence of this, for example, a copy of the
signed/dated rental agreement showing the amount and
frequency of payment.
Section 12 – Backdating
The start date of your rates Housing Benefit/Rate Relief claim will usually be the Monday after you
ask for your application form if you return it to us within one calendar month.
i
INFORMATION
If you are working age
We may be able to backdate your claim up to a maximum of six
months from the date you request that your claim is backdated.
The law says you must be able to show “continuous good cause”
for not making your claim earlier.
If you would like your claim to be considered for backdating,
please tell us:
•The date you think your claim should start.
•The reasons why.
Important: The law says that not knowing you were entitled to
claim is not usually considered to be “good cause” because
information about rates Housing Benefit and Rate Relief is
enclosed with your rates bill, and is available online or through
your local Social Security Office or the advice sector.
If you are of
Pension age
This is the date on which you become eligible to claim state
Pension Credit.
You are not entitled to backdating because your claim will
automatically be taken back three months from your application
date, or to the Monday after the date you became eligible to
claim state Pension Credit, if that is later.
e REQUIRED EVIDENCE
12.1a Backdating
Each case is considered individually so please state your
reasons. If you feel it is appropriate, please enclose any
evidence you have to support your application for backdating.
RATES HOUSING BENEFIT AND RATE RELIEF — GUIDANCE NOTES FOR CLAIM FORM (1.0)
Page 11 of 12
Section 13 – Declaration
It is important that you read the declaration before signing your name and making your claim.
Remember: The following important key points:
YOU MUST
IF YOU DON’T
Continue to pay your rates until your rates
Housing Benefit and Rate Relief claim has
been assessed.
You will have to repay all outstanding rates owed.
Tell us about any relevant change of
circumstances which may affect your
entitlement to rates Housing Benefit or rate
Relief within one month of the change.
For a list of examples of relevant changes of
circumstances visit www.nidirect.gov.uk/rates
or call 0300 200 7802.
You may lose out on rates Housing Benefit or
Rates Relief, to which you would otherwise be
entitled, and you may have to repay any amount
of benefit overpaid to you because you have not
told about us about a change of circumstance or
provided the correct information.
Failure to make payments to your rate account may result in Land & Property Services taking
action to recover any outstanding balance, including court action.
Section 14 – COMPLETING THE FORM ON BEHALF OF someone else
If you have completed the application form on behalf of the claimant, you must complete this section
with the relevant details.
Some useful definitions:
Agents: these are people who are officially authorised to collect payments on behalf of the claimant.
Appointees: these are people who have been appointed by the court or the SSA to deal with the
financial affairs of the claimant because they are unable to act for themselves.
e REQUIRED EVIDENCE
14
If you have been appointed by either the courts or the Social
Security Agency (SSA), you must provide evidence in the form of:
•An official document from the Court Service granting you
Power of Attorney; or
•A letter from the SSA confirming appointeeship for the claimant
Please
return THE
completed
form to:
Housing Benefit
Central Unit
Land & Property Services
Lincoln Building
27–45 Great Victoria Street
Malone Lower
BELFAST, BT2 7SL
Dial 0300 200 7802
(calls charged at local rate)
CONTACT US
RATES HOUSING BENEFIT AND RATE RELIEF — GUIDANCE NOTES FOR CLAIM FORM (1.0)
Dial 0044 28 9054 1613
if outside the UK
Textphone 18001101
Or call into your local LPS office
© Crown Copyright 2012
Page 12 of 12