Benefits Expert: ‘You may wish to query it’

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Q MY partner works 40 hours a week at £8 an hour, taking home £270. I receive £200 a week Child Tax Credit (CTC) and £60.50 a week Child Benefit for my four children.

Our Working Tax Credit (WTC) was stopped but we never understood why. We pay £82 a week rent and £25 Council Tax but have no rebates on these. Can we claim anything?

E (by Email).

A YOU are spending about £60 more a week than you need to.

You are due Housing Benefit that would reduce your basic rent to about £36 a week and Council Tax Benefit that would reduce your Council Tax to about £570 a year.

Tax Credits depend, among other things, on the annual taxable income of you and your partner. CTC for a couple in your situation works out at about £11,305 a year (about £217 a week), while WTC works out at about £470 a year (about £9 a week).

There are various reasons why you might be receiving less than this, owing to the complexity of the Tax Credit system, but you may wish to query it. Remember though, that every £1 a week increase in your Tax Credits would reduce the help you get with rent and Council Tax by £0.85 a week.

Q I AM unemployed with a three-year-old for whom I receive Child Benefit plus CTC of £150 a month.

My partner’s take-home pay is £300 a week for 30 hours. Can we get any help with the rent?

Kay (by Email).

A IF you pay rent of more than £75 a week you can get Housing Benefit of up to £25 a week.

Q I AM a widow of 76, severely disabled and living alone. In 2009 Sunderland City Council refused me Council Tax Benefit although I live on only a State Pension and a small pension from my late husband.

I had taken out part equity on my home to help my son out of financial difficulties.

The council said I could not gift money and this is why they turned me down. I have never understood this. Can you explain why?

Mrs D (Seaburn).

A IF you raise money from your home, say through equity release, it will be treated as capital and affect benefits.

If you give it away the council may still treat you as having it, if they think that one of the reasons you deprived yourself of it was to qualify for benefit. It is too late to challenge the decision but you can make a new claim and appeal if it is rejected.