Benefits - change of circumstances

Tell us if your circumstances change

The law says that you must tell us as soon as you can, if your circumstances change. You must tell us straight away if:

  • any of your children leaves home or Child Benefit stops for them or they leave school, ceases further education, or their university course finishes;
  • anyone moves into or out of your home (including lodgers and subtenants);
  • you get married, form a civil partnership or start living with someone as if you are married or civil partners;
  • you separate from your partner, get divorced or have your civil partnership dissolved;
  • your income or the income of anyone living with you, including benefits, changes;
  • your capital, savings or investments change;
  • you or anyone living with you becomes a student, goes on a Youth Training Scheme, goes into hospital or a nursing home, goes into prison or becomes employed, changes or leaves employment;
  • your rent changes;
  • you move;
  • you or your partner are going to be away from home for more than a month;
  • you receive a decision from the Home Office;
  • if any of the details on your entitlement letters sent to you are wrong; or
  • anything else you have told us about changes.

How to tell us about your changes

Tell us your income has changed:

You can tell us about any other changes by completing the Change of Circumstances Form (pdf) and submitting it to Contact Harlow along with any proof required of what has changed, so photocopies can be taken.

What happens if I delay telling you?

If you don’t tell us about these changes within a calendar month, you may lose benefit and/or support you are entitled to, or you may get too much benefit and/or support which you will then have to pay back. You must make sure that you tell us about these changes. Do not rely on someone else to pass the message on.

It is an offence not to tell us about any change of circumstance that affects your benefit and/or support. The Council is under a duty to protect public funds and the information you give us may be used for the prevention and detection of fraud and may be shared with other bodies administering public funds solely for this purpose.

Returning to work - extended payments

If you return to work or your hours increase, your Housing benefit and/or Council Tax support may be affected.

If you have received income based Jobseekers Allowance, Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance or Incapacity Benefit for at least 26 weeks before the day you start work or increase your hours you may qualify for an extra four weeks of benefit and/or support to help you with your rent and/or Council Tax called Extended Payment. You must be under 60 years old. Your new job or increase in hours must be expected to last for at least five weeks and you must work more than 16 hours per week.

What will I get?

If you qualify you will get an extra four weeks of Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Support paid at the same rate as previously. It does not matter how much you earn. You can also still claim normal Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax support based upon your new income after the period of extended payments ends.

If you move home during the extended payment period you will get the remainder of the extended payment paid at the same rate. Any new Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support applied for at the new address will only be paid from the date the extended payment ends.

How do I apply?

You always need to tell us if you start or change your employment. You or someone on your behalf can tell us at Contact Harlow. You must tell us within a calendar month of the start date and then provide us with proof of your income as soon as it is available.

Can I get any other help?

Housing Benefit and Council Tax support are both means tested and therefore if you return to full time work but are on a low income you may still qualify for help. If you want to know more you should discuss your circumstances with your Job Centre Plus Return To Work Advisor or with Contact Harlow. There are several other ways that you can get help when you return to work. More information can be found about returning to work benefits on the website.