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Benefit Advice

Getting everything you are entitled to

We contact all our new tenants to make sure that they are getting the right benefits. You can use this online benefit checker to see how much benefit you could claim. We have specialist staff who can give advice on benefits and how to apply or appeal against decisions.

The government have also produced a new benefits calculator which can also help with calculation of Universal Credit.

For general information on benefits, including help with your Council Tax, visit the Colchester Borough Council benefits page. Visit our money advice page for information on how to make the most of your money.

Help with your rent

If you are on a low income you may be entitled to Housing Benefit or Discretionary Housing Payments to cover all or part of your rent. You can apply for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support online here. If you are getting Housing Benefit and your circumstances change it is important that you report the changes immediately here.

In 2013 the Government changed how much Housing Benefit can be paid if you have more bedrooms than you need. This is sometimes referred to as the “bedroom tax”. For more information on how this can affect your benefits please expand the information box below.

Housing Benefit and Underoccupation

If you are of working age, the rent that can be covered by Housing Benefit is based on the number of bedrooms and people in your home. If your home has more bedrooms than the rules say you need, the maximum Housing Benefit you can receive is reduced by:

  • 14% of the rent if you have one more bedroom than you need
  • 25% of the rent if you have two or more extra bedrooms

This is often referred to as the “bedroom tax”. This means that if your rent is £100 a week, the most Housing Benefit you can receive is £86 a week if you have one extra bedroom, or £75 a week if you have more than one extra bedroom.

Housing Benefit will pay for one bedroom per adult or couple. Two children under 10, or under 16 and the same sex, are expected to share a room. No allowance is made for children whose main residence is not with you. If you need overnight care you may be able to claim for another bedroom for this. If you are a foster carer or have children in the Armed Forces, you may also be able to claim for another bedroom. You can find out how much you can claim here.

Moving to a smaller home

You may qualify for an incentive payment and additional waiting list priority if you are looking to move to a smaller home – see our Transfer Incentive Scheme and Mutual Exchange pages for more details.

Paying your rent

If Housing Benefit does not cover your whole rent you will need to pay the difference yourself.  See our Ways to pay page for more details. In some circumstances you may be able to claim for a Discretionary Housing Payment to cover some or all of the shortfall.

If you are considering taking in a lodger to help you pay your rent, please read this leaflet.

Colchester Borough Council have produced a video on under-occupation.

For further advice, please see Colchester Borough Council Under Occupancy Charge

Discretionary Housing Payments

If you are entitled to Housing Benefit and are having difficulty in paying your rent you can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment. This is a temporary payment to help cover your rent, for example while you are looking to move to a more affordable home. To find out more and apply online.

Paying your rent

If your full rent is not covered by benefits, you will need to make arrangements to pay the difference. Visit our how to pay page to find out more.


In an emergency the Essential Living Fund may be able to provide you with essential items, such as household items, fuel, clothing and general living expenses. For details on how to apply see essential living fund for essex or call 0300 7900124 (this number is charged at local rates from any number including mobiles).

Benefit cap

If you are of working age, the most you can receive in certain benefits is £384.62 per week for a couple or family and £257.69 for a single person. If the money you get from a range of benefits comes to more than this, your Housing Benefit payments will be reduced or stopped. To find out more visit Direct Gov – benefit cap or call 0845 605 7064.

Changes to benefits

The government has introduced a programme of welfare reform. This means a large number of changes including reductions in Housing benefit if you have more bedrooms then you need and the introduction of Universal Credit. For more information on benefits, including the government’s programme of welfare reform, visit Turn 2 us – benefits advice.