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How to claim Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction

Housing Benefit helps people on low income pay their rent.

We are currently transitioning to a new Revenues and Benefits system. Our services will continue during this time but you may need to do some things differently.

Read our FAQs, which explain what to do in relation to Council Tax, Housing Benefits, and Business Rates queries or applications during this time.

  • You can claim Housing Benefit if you and your partner have reached the qualifying age for state pension credit and meet the required conditions.
  • If you are of working age, you will need to claim Universal Credit - Apply for universal credit
  • However, there are scenarios where you can be working age and still claim Housing Benefit. You can find these exceptions on Shelter's Housing Benefit - how to claim webpage.

To make a claim for Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction please download and complete the PDF application form below relevant to where you live. You can return this to us by post or by email to If you need help completing the form please call  01323 410000.

If you are not able to print off the forms or scan them once complete, you can get help from your local library or Citizens Advice Bureau in Eastbourne or Lewes.

Eastbourne Council Tax Reduction and Housing Benefit Form (PDF) [1MB]
Eastbourne Council Tax Reduction Scheme (PDF) [1MB]
Lewes Council Tax Reduction and Housing Benefit Form (PDF) [3MB]
Lewes District Council Tax Reduction Scheme (PDF) [1MB]



What is Housing Benefit?

Housing Benefit is a means tested benefit - your income is measured against your needs and your rent costs. Housing Benefit can only help people who pay rent - we cannot help people who have mortgages. The Housing Benefit scheme operates in three different ways:

Rent rebate

This provides help for those renting Council properties.  If you are entitled to any Housing Benefit, it is credited directly to your rent account and you will then pay less rent. 

Rent allowance

This provides help for those renting from housing associations and some who rent from private landlords. For those renting from private landlords it applies to people who have lived in the same property since before 1989 and those who have been claiming Housing Benefit at the same address since 6 April 2008. Entitlement under this scheme is paid either into the customer's bank account to help them pay their rent or directly to the landlord's bank account - the choice is with the tenant.

Local Housing Allowance

This was a new scheme introduced in April 2008 for tenants who rent from a private landlord.  It affects those people moving to a new address or making a new claim after 7 April 2008. Entitlement under this scheme is calculated on the Local Housing Allowance rates and any benefit is normally paid into the customer's bank account to help them pay their rent.  It can be paid directly to the landlord in exceptional circumstances.

Work out what you're entitled to

As every case is slightly different, we suggest you use the independent benefits calculators to find out if you are entitled.

How much am I entitled to?

Please have this information to hand:

  • The amount of rent that you pay
  • All the income coming into your household
  • All the capital of you and your partner


Who can't claim Housing Benefit?

 You will not be entitled to Housing Benefit if any of the following apply:

  • You are not the person liable to pay rent
  • You are in receipt of Universal Credit and receiving the housing element
  • You have more than £16,000 in savings, unless the capital falls under a permitted disregard. Please contact us for more information if you are unsure if this applies to you.
  • You do not occupy the property as your main home

You are a full-time student, unless you are a full time student who is also:

  • Receiving Income Support
  • A lone parent or couple who are responsible for a child or foster child
  • Disabled
  • Under 21 and following a further (not higher) course of education
  • Of state pension age

Please also note that many migrants and people who have recently arrived in the UK are excluded from receiving Housing Benefit. Please check with us for more information if you think this may apply to you.

Can students claim Housing Benefit?

Council Tax

If you are a full-time student and living alone or in a property with other full-time students, you may be eligible for a student disregard. If you live with other non-student non-dependants, the household may be entitled to a 25% reduction in Council Tax. There are some instances where full time students with dependants may be entitled to benefits. You should contact your Student Welfare services to help you find out what you are entitled to.

Housing Benefit

The Benefit Regulations say that only certain students are entitled to Housing Benefit. This is because there is an allowance for rent built into the standard student loan.

Council Tax reduction

This scheme helps people on low income with their Council Tax. You can claim Council Tax reduction if you are working but your earnings are low or if you are receiving state benefits.

Council Tax reduction (CTR) is subject to a means test - your income is measured against your needs and the amount of Council Tax you pay. CTR can only help towards your Council Tax.

The level of CTR you may be entitled to is based on your income. However, some incomes (for example certain disability benefits) are ignored or 'disregarded'. Broadly speaking the lower your income, the more CTR you might be entitled to. Generally, you cannot claim if you have capital of more than £16,000.

Making a claim

If you think you might be entitled to CTR, then you can make a claim by completing an application form. CTR will usually start from when you return your form. If you are claiming for both Housing Benefit and Council Tax reduction, you will only need to complete one claim form.

Universal Credit

If you are in receipt of Universal Credit and you are liable to pay Council Tax, you need to complete a new Council Tax reduction claim form.