Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Some of our services have temporarily stopped or changed. See our Changes to Council services page for services’ status and our Coronavirus updates section for latest information.

Benefits FAQs

I’m struggling to pay my rent, what should I do?

Housing Benefit rules have changed if you're working age (18 to 65) and would like help with your rent costs.  You can no longer claim Housing Benefit from the Council unless you're:

  • living Temporary Accommodation provided by us
  • living in Supported Accommodation
  • are in receipt of the severe disability premium

In all other cases you will have to claim help with your rent costs as part of a Universal Credit claim with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). You can apply for this online at www.gov.uk/universalcredit.

If you (and your partner) are over 65, you may be eligible to claim Housing Benefit to help with your rent costs. You can find out more about Housing Benefit and apply online here http://www.tunbridgewells.gov.uk/residents/benefits/housing-benefit

How do I get help with my Council Tax?

To get Council Tax Support, you must:

  • Be on a low income
  • Be the person responsible for paying the Council Tax

You will not normally qualify for benefit if you have savings or investments of more than £16,000. You may have more savings than this and still get Council Tax Support if you, or your partner, get the guaranteed part of Pension Credit.

You can find out more about Council Tax Support and apply online here

http://www.tunbridgewells.gov.uk/residents/council-tax/council-tax-support

I can’t pay my mortgage, what do I do?

The DWP may be able to provide help with this.

If you’re a homeowner, you might be able to get help towards interest payments on:

  • Your mortgage
  • Loans you’ve taken out for certain repairs and improvements to your home

This help is called Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI).  It’s paid as a loan, which you’ll need to repay with interest when you sell or transfer ownership of your home.

You usually need to be getting, or treated as getting, a qualifying benefit to get SMI.

You may also wish to contact your mortgage provider regarding a payment holiday.

I am on a zero hours contract and have been laid off; what do I do?

You may be eligible to claim Universal Credit to help with your living costs.  You can apply for this online at www.gov.uk/universalcredit.

You will have to apply as a couple if you and your partner live together but you do not need to be married.

You might also need to phone the Universal Credit helpline to book an interview with a work coach.  You’ll be told if you need to do this after you apply.

I’m self employed/freelance and now cannot work due to COVID19, what do I do?

If you are off work and not entitled to sick pay, you may be able to claim benefits.  Depending on your National Insurance record, you may be able to claim ‘New Style’ Employment Support Allowance.  For more information on this, click here.

Alternatively, you may be able to claim Universal Credit to help with your living costs.  Visit www.gov.uk/universalcredit to apply online.

What benefits can I claim?

Depending on your National Insurance contributions, you may be able to claim ‘New Style Job Seekers Allowance if you are out of work but physically fit, or New Style Employment and Support Allowance if you are unable to work because of your health.

If you are not eligible for these benefits, you may be able to claim Universal Credit to help with your living costs. You can apply for this online at www.gov.uk/universalcredit.

The Department for Works and Pensions has released a statement regarding how they will support employees, benefit claimants and businesses who are effected by the repercussions of coronavirus.  You can read this information here.

Who do I contact for help?

If you are struggling to pay your Council Tax bill, you may be eligible to apply for Council Tax Support.  You can find out more about Council Tax Support and apply online here http://www.tunbridgewells.gov.uk/residents/council-tax/council-tax-support.

If you are working age and need help with your living costs and/or rental charge, you may be eligible for some assistance through Universal Credit. You can apply for this online at www.gov.uk/universalcredit.

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