Benefits Expert John Gordon: ‘It is worth a try’

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Q I have Income Support (IS) for sickness of £142.60 a week for my wife and me, plus my Disability Living Allowance for Mobility of £49.85 a week.

We must pay £57 a week towards our rent of £148.66 as we only get a housing allowance of £91 a week from the council. Is there any other help we can claim?

Jack, Houghton le Spring.

A People on IS like you receive maximum Housing Benefit, but this does not necessarily cover the full rent.

There is a limit to what the council can pay, related to the number of bedrooms the person needs.

The limit for a one-bedroom property in Sunderland is £91.15 a week.

You should ask the council for Discretionary Housing Payments to help make up the shortfall.

There is no legal entitlement to these payments so there is no certainty you will get them but it is worth a try.

Q I am a single parent with a 10-year-old and take home £630 a month wages.

I receive Child Tax Credit of £55 a week and Working Tax Credit of £188 every four weeks.

We live with my parents but would like our own place. What help could we expect with the rent?

Tammy, Silksworth.

A The maximum rent allowance from the council for a two-bedroom property is £109.62 a week but this would be reduced to £67.78 in your case because of your income.

If your rent was more than £109.62 a week you would have to pay the extra yourself like Jack above.

You would also be entitled to Council Tax Benefit that would reduce your Council Tax to about £669 a year.

Q I finished a college course on December 4 and my mother stopped getting Child Benefit (CB) for me.

I claimed Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) but the Jobcentre said I was disqualified until March because my mother was entitled to CB for me.

However, the CB office wrote to my mother saying she could not get CB for me because I was no longer in full-time education. One of them must be wrong but which one?

A, Sunderland.

A A young person for whom CB has been in payment may continue to be treated as being in education for some time after they actually finish their studies.

CB will continue in payment for them during this period and they cannot claim benefits in their own right.

In your case, as your course finished on December 4, you will continue to be treated as being in full-time education, and not entitled to JSA, until the last day of February.