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Housing benefit decision letter explanation

We know that the benefit letters are not easy to understand, but the government tells us what information has to be put in the letter.

Whenever we make a decision about your housing benefit entitlement we have to send you a letter telling you about that decision. The law tells us what information has to be put into the letter and this can make the letters difficult to understand.

However, it is important that you read the letters and tell us if you spot any mistakes. If a mistake results in you receiving too much benefit then we can ask you to repay this even if it was not your fault.

The information on this page aims to help you to understand the letters. Please refer to the sample letter pdf (right) when reading these notes.

Terms that appear in your benefit decision letter
Reason for calculationThe reason why we have made a new decision about your benefit entitlement
Weekly benefit awardThe amount of benefit that you are entitled to
Overpayment recoveryA deduction we are making to recover an overpayment of benefit that we have decided is recoverable from you
Gross rentYour total rent that we are using in the calculation. This may include amounts that are not eligible for housing benefit
Net benefit payableThe actual amount of benefit that we are going to pay you after taking off any amounts for recovery of an overpayment. Please note that the benefit letter shows your council tax benefit as a weekly amount but your bill will show the amount that you need to pay each month.
Benefit starts onThe date from which you are entitled to this amount of benefit
Benefit ends onThe date after which this amount of benefit no longer applies. If you are still entitled after that date then you will receive another letter for that period
Weekly eligible rent

The actual amount of rent used in calculating your housing benefit entitlement

Ineligible service chargesAn amount included in your rent for which housing benefit cannot be paid
Non dependant deductionsIf there are other adults living with you we usually have to make a deduction from your benefit entitlement. The deduction depends on the income and circumstances of these adults. This section of the letter tells you the names of the adults that we are taking into account, the information we have about their circumstances, and the weekly amount of the deductions that we are making.
Earned incomeYour net wages and salaries from earnings, or income from self-employment, after tax, National Insurance and half of any pension contribution have been taken off.
Other incomeAll your other income apart from earned income. This includes any income that is not taken into account in the calculation of your entitlement.
Assumed income from capitalIf you have savings we have to convert these into a weekly income using a standard calculation. Please check that the stated amount of your savings is correct.
Total incomeThe total weekly income we are using in the calculation including earnings, other income and assumed income from capital
Disregarded incomeIncome that we ignore when calculating your entitlement. This includes things such as Child Benefit, Disability Living Allowance, War Pensions and maintenance.
ExpensesAny amount that you pay for child care costs and which we are allowed to take off your income.
Income used in calculationThe weekly amount of income which we are using in the calculation of your benefit entitlement.
Applicable amount                                        This is the amount of weekly income that the government says you (and your family) need to meet basic living costs such as food, fuel, water, and clothing. This takes into account the number of people in your household, their ages, and any disabilities. The letter shows the different elements that have been used in calculating your applicable amount.

Your benefit entitlement is calculated by comparing your income with your applicable amount and your rent and council tax.

Housing benefit

Income less applicable amount = excess income

Excess income x 65% taper = tapered income

Eligible rent less tapered income = your weekly housing benefit

If you disagree with our decision about your benefit entitlement you can ask us to look at that decision or you can appeal against the decision. You can find more information about this here. Housing benefit appeals


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