Benefit Must-Know Facts


Here are key facts to maximise your income and avoid benefit overpayments. These facts are very much worth knowing about. You can download our factsheet (PDF) here.


What To Do If You Urgently Need Money


  • If you have no money due to a crisis or emergency, apply to the Council’s Scottish Welfare Fund for a Crisis Grant which you won’t need to pay back. You’ll find a list of all contact details in this document.


  • If you are waiting for your new benefit claim to start, you can apply to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for a Benefit


Changes in Circumstances


  • Report all changes in your circumstances to the Council, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and HMRC’s Tax Credits Office. Don’t assume that these three bodies share information. It is your duty to report any changes, for example when: you stop work or start another job; you increase your hours at work; your wages or benefits go up or down, e.g. you get an annual pay increase; someone moves in or out; you start a new relationship, get married or break up with someone; you have a baby; your child stops full-time education; or your childcare costs go up or down.


  • Ask for a receipt when you hand in evidence to the Council or the JobCentre, and take note of the date, time and the name of the person you speak to, if you report a change over the phone.


Changes in Circumstances – Housing Benefit 


  • You must contact the ‘Revenues and Benefits’ section of the Council to notify your changes in circumstances, and not rely on your housing officer to pass on the information for you, even if you are a Council tenant.


  • For any change in circumstances related to jobs, the Council will need to see your P45 (if you’ve stopped a job) and your last 2 monthly payslips, 5 weekly payslips or 3 fortnightly payslips for any new job.


  • Inform the Council when your child reaches their 16th or 18th birthday or when you stop getting Child Benefit for them, as this will affect your Housing Benefit.


Housing Benefit Issues


  • You may have to pay some rent even if you are on means-tested benefits, for example due to a non-dependant deduction if you have adult relatives living with you (even when they are neither working nor claiming benefits), or due to a Housing Benefit overpayment. Check your rent charge with the Council.


  • If you are affected by the Benefit Cap or by the Bedroom Tax because you have a spare bedroom, go to the Council and apply for Discretionary Housing Payments.


  • If you are struggling to pay your rent despite getting Housing Benefit, you may also qualify for extra help from Discretionary Housing Payments. Ask your local Council for an application form.


  • To avoid overpayments, check your Housing Benefit award letter to make sure the Council have the right income details for you—these are shown on the left bottom corner of the letter. If in doubt, phone them and ask what income details they have on records.


Tax Credits


  • Renew your Tax Credits before 31 July by completing and returning your review form.


  • Children who turn 16 are automatically removed from your Tax Credits claim at the end of August following their 16th birthday. You must contact the Tax Credits Office to advise if your 16-year old child is continuing in education or not.


Benefit Sanctions


  • If your JSA, Universal Credit or ESA has been sanctioned, apply to your local JobCentre for Hardship Payments. If you have no money at all while you wait for Hardship Payments, apply to the Council’s Scottish Welfare Fund for a Crisis Grant. You can challenge/appeal any sanction. Ask us for help.


  • Your Housing Benefit will be stopped or ‘suspended’ during the sanction. It does not mean you stop being entitled to Housing Benefit; it’s just that the Council must re-assess your income. Write to the Council to let them know you have no other income or savings, and give them a bank statement for the period of the sanction, so they can reinstate your Housing Benefit.


You can download our factsheet (PDF) here.


A Handy List of Phone Numbers

Click here to download a list of useful phone numbers to reach DWP’s various benefit departments and some other numbers for The City of Edinburgh Council such as Revenues and Benefits, EdIndex, Social Care Direct etc. Contact us if you would like a hard copy of this document.