BENEFITS EXPERT: Rent rebate and tax credits

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We are both 75 with four-weekly State Pensions of £633.24 and £561.44, and my husband’s works pension is £261.09 a month. Our savings are £6,000. Could we qualify for a rebate on our rent of £339.36 a month and Council Tax of £90 a month?

You might be entitled to a small amount of Housing Benefit towards your rent, but this depends upon how your rent is made up.

When the council calculates a person’s Housing Benefit entitlement, they work out how much the person could be expected to pay towards their basic rent based upon their income.  

However, there are certain parts of a person’s rent that they must pay themselves in addition, whatever their income.

These include expenses like water charges or certain charges for amenities which will not be covered by Housing Benefit.

In your circumstances you would be expected to pay £71.77 a week (or £312 a month) towards your basic rent. You would also be expected to pay anything in your rent that is for water or relevant amenity charges.

As you are paying £339.36 a month for rent, you would be entitled to some Housing Benefit if these charges amount to less than £27.36 a month in total.

If you think you would be eligible, you can claim Housing Benefit from your local council.

I am afraid your income is above the level where you could be eligible for Council Tax Benefit.

I have just turned 60 and am looking to reduce my working hours and have been told that I might now be eligible for Tax Credits. Is this correct? I am a registered general nurse with an NHS pension.

The eligibility rules for Working Tax Credit are based upon a person’s weekly working hours and the size of their annual taxable income.

The minimum number of hours a person aged 60 or more must work are 16 per week, as opposed to the usual 30.

A single person aged 60 or more, and working between 16 and 29 hours a week, would normally qualify for some Working Tax Credit if their annual taxable income was under £11,200.

So any claim you made for Working Tax Credit would take account of your income for the entire current tax year, not just the period when your earnings were reduced because of fewer hours.

A pension from work is also included as part of a person’s taxable income.

Where someone has a partner they must make a joint claim, with their partner’s taxable income also being taken into account.

You can claim Working Tax Credit by phoning 0345 300 3900.