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Changes to Housing Benefit and How we Pay it

Information about Housing Benefit and changes to how we pay it


  • Changes to Housing Benefit
  • Two Child Limit
  • Overpayments
  • Discretionary Housing Payment

Changes to Housing Benefit

Family Premium Entitlement

If you get the Family Premium entitlement premium you will continue to get it but for any new claim this has stopped and you will not get it.

The Benefit Cap

The Benefit Cap limits the amount that a household can receive in benefit.  It applies to those aged 16 to 64.  The Benefit Cap applies to benefits such as Housing Benefit, Child Benefit, Income Support and Job Seekers allowance.  Find out more using the  Benefit Cap advice page.

Our video explains all the changes.

What should I do if I think I may be affected?

If you think you may be affected you can contact our Benefits Team. We are here to provide you with a wide range of advice and support.

The bedroom tax or Under Occupancy Charge

The Government has brought in new rules that set out the number of bedrooms your Housing Benefit will pay for. If you require any further information please click on the links below:

Housing Benefit - what you'll get - GOV.UK

Bedroom Tax - www.shelter.org

Watch our video that explains all of the changes, and will direct you for further help.

Two child limit

If you already claimed Housing Benefit before 6 April 2017 and you have another child on or after 6 April 2017, and that child is not currently being included in your Child Tax Credit assessment, then your Housing Benefit claim will not include an allowance for that child.

If you make a new Housing Benefit claim on or after April 2017 and have more than two children, your Housing Benefit claim will only include an allowance for the additional children if HM Revenue and Customers (HMRC) are already including them on the child tax credit award.

For all cases where you have more than two children and you believe that we should be including them as part of your allowance, we will need to see your tax credit award letter.

Please note that even if we are not including a child as part of the allowance, we will still include them as part of your household when working out how many bedrooms you will require for housing benefit purposes.

This change doesn't affect you if you receive Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance, in which case you automatically receive the maximum Housing Benefit allowable based on your eligible rent.

What is the Local Housing Allowance?

Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates are used to work out how much Housing Benefit you will get if you rent from a private landlord. It applies to anyone making a new claim or who moves to a new home. It also applies if you move from social housing into privately rented.

LHA rates depend on the area you are making your claim in and are updated every year in April.  

If you would like to see the LHA rates please use the link below:

LHA rates for 2017/18 in Colchester Borough

More information about Local Housing Allowance can be found here.


An overpayment is where you have been given more Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support than you should have had. One of the most common reasons that an overpayment may happen is when something changes such as an increase to your income, someone moving in with you or if you move house.

If an overpayment does happen then we will get the money back from you.

How we get the money back from you depends on what benefits you may be getting. If you are still getting Housing Benefit then the amount you get every week will be reduced until you pay the overpayment back. You will need to pay extra rent to your landlord to make up the difference.

If we pay your Housing Benefit to your landlord then you will need to pay extra to your landlord to make up the difference.

If you do not get Housing Benefit then we may take the money from any other benefits you get.

If the overpayment is for Council Tax then we will add the overpayment to your bill and if you are not getting any benefits then we will send you an invoice.

Don't forget to get in touch with us as soon as possible if you have any changes that you think may affect the amount of money you get from us. If you think the overpayment is wrong then you should get in touch with us and within one month for us to look at it again.

Housing Benefit Direct Payment Form

You can ask for your rent to be paid direct to your landlord if you are having trouble looking after your money. The team will write to you to tell you if they will pay your rent direct to your landlord and you can apply by contacting us.

Reconsideration Form

You can request an explanation about any decision we make or ask for a review by filling out the Reconsideration Form.

Tenants Permission Form

This is a form to let us discuss your claim with your landlord or someone else.

Please Fill in the Tenant's Permission Form

Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP)

A Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) is for customers who need some extra help with their housing costs and is funded by the Department for Work and Pensions. 

To qualify for a DHP you must be entitled to:

  • Housing Benefit (HB); or
  • Universal Credit (UC) Housing Element; and
  • Be responsible for the rent; and
  • Need extra financial help with housing costs.

A DHP does not cover Service Charges that cannot be covered by HB or UC Housing Element.

To apply for a DHP first  Read the DHP Guidance for Residents 2018-2019  to see if you qualify. If you qualify for DHP then you can Apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment online.

Each case will be decided individually so it is vital that you provide as much information as possible to support your claim. 

If you disagree with our decision you can ask us to reconsider. Please contact us and explain why you do not agree with the decision.

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