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Claiming housing benefit and council tax support

Housing benefit helps people on low incomes pay their rent.  It’s not available for mortgage repayments.

Council tax support helps people on low incomes pay their council tax. 

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There are different rules for claiming housing benefit and council tax support. You may be able to claim one or both.

Universal Credit has started to replace Housing Benefit for working age people in Cornwall. Please check whether you are eligible to receive Universal Credit or Housing Benefit.

You can normally claim housing benefit if you’re the person, or one of the people, who pays the rent and you’re claiming benefits or have a low income.

If you pay council tax for the home where you live, you may be able to claim council tax support.

You can’t get support to help pay council tax for a home that isn’t your permanent home (for example, a second home).

The help you get will depend on:

  • The rent or council tax you pay
  • The people who live with you
  • The needs of your family
  • Your income
  • Your savings

If you’re a studentself employed person or a person from abroad there are different rules, which can be complex. Please ring our benefits advice line on 0300 1234 121 if you’re in one of these groups.


Benefits Calculator 

Use our to see if you’re entitled to housing benefit or council tax support.

Cornwall Council, as the Data Controller, is committed to protecting your privacy and any personal data you provide or we collect about you will be stored securely and only used for housing benefit/council tax support assessments, in accordance with our privacy policy. We will not use your information for any other purpose or give it to anyone else unless we are required to do so by law.  For example, we have a duty to protect public funds so we may need to use the information held about you for the prevention and detection of fraud which would require us to share it with other Council statutory services or organisations responsible for auditing or administering public funds. 

Read this page to see if you’re eligible. If you are eligible to make a claim, you can do so online. Completing an online application form is likely to take between 20 and 45 minutes, depending on your circumstances. You can check on likely entitlement before completing the form using our benefits calculator.

  • If you have made a claim before, the fastest way to claim is by signing into your online account. (Choose benefits, select the account you would like to make a claim for, then select eclaim)
  • If you have never claimed before, or do not have an online account, you can still make a claim online

When you make your claim online, we'll send you a summary of the details we'll use to work out your benefit. You need to check the information and tell us if anything is missing or wrong and supply your supporting documents.

If you encounter problems using our online claim form, you can call 0300 1234 121 where an advisor will be able to help you.

As well as your claim form, we’ll need to see things like:

  • proof of your identity
  • your national insurance number, and
  • proof of your income, savings and rent

If you live with a partner we’ll also need to see their information. Your claim form will tell you what else you need to send us.

Our preferred method of receiving documents is via our online contact form. If you need to provide additional information or evidence regarding a benefits claim, please do so by completing the form above and following the instructions. Please send clear copies or photographs and ensure that any documents are saved as a Word document or as a PDF file.

If you do not have access to the internet all forms and photocopies of documents should be sent by post. The address is shown on the front of the form or email/letter that has been sent to you requesting the information.

Please only send us photocopies of your documents. If you send an original document we will not be able to return this to you unless you ask us to return the document and enclose a stamped addressed envelope.  

If you have problems supplying the information we ask for, ring our benefits advice line on 0300 1234 121.  You can also download and print forms to help you gather some of the information we need. 

We’ll send you a letter telling you how much benefit you’re entitled to. The letter will explain how we’ve worked out your claim and how we’ll pay your benefit. If you’re entitled to council tax support, we’ll send you a new bill for the reduced amount. The bill will also show your new instalments.

Once your claim has been assessed, you can check your claim details online. This includes viewing:

  • Council Tax support awards made
  • housing benefit payments
  • details about your next payment
  • any letters telling you about your benefit, and
  • how we’ve worked your benefit out

You can also sign up to have your notifications sent to you by e-mail.

View your claim details online


If you rent your home from Cornwall Housing, we’ll pay any housing benefit direct to your rent account.

If you rent from a private landlord, we’ll normally pay housing benefit to you.

We can make payments direct to your landlord if we think making payments to you will cause you serious difficulties.  You can find out more in our local housing allowance safeguard policy.

To apply for payments to be made direct to your landlord, a direct payment to landlord form needs to be completed.  You can complete the form yourself or your landlord or someone else can do it for you.

If we decide to make payments direct to your landlord, we will usually review the decision after an agreed time. This is to check direct payments are still appropriate.