Tenancy Support

Tenancy support is a team of people who are here to help you in so many ways. Their main focus is to help you maintain a tenancy, but they can do so much more as well:

  • Help you to apply, fill out forms, understand what you are entitled to, including Universal Credit, Housing Benefit and DHP payments
  • Signpost you to find the right support in your time of need
  • Support you to budget
  • Establishing social contacts and activities so you do not feel isolated within the local community
  • We can help you in setting up a bank account, register at a GPs and other local services
  • We can even help you with bidding for properties on Home-link

Frequently Asked Questions for the Tenancy Support Team

How does social housing work in ECDC?

In ECDC social housing is owned and managed by various organisations and not by the Council itself. As a result, sometimes it may be quicker for you to ask them your question directly rather than your Tenancy Support Officer. For example:
  • Making an arrangement for a rent arrears payment plan
  • Find out who your social housing officer is
  • To set up and arrange paying your rent
  • If you are struggling with making a payment 
  • To check your rent balance
  • If you have any changes in your circumstances, such as any changes in your work or benefits
Of course, if you are not sure then contact your Tenancy Support Officer.

What is a Discretionary Housing Payment? 

A discretionary housing payment (DHP) is an extra payment made by your local council if you are struggling to pay rent. You do not need to repay a DHP. You need to be receiving housing benefit or the universal credit housing element to get a DHP.

Reasons that you are struggling to pay your rent could include:

  • local housing allowance rates have left you with a rent shortfall
  • the benefit cap
  • the bedroom tax
DHPs can also help pay a tenancy deposit or rent in advance for a new home, but only if you are already getting housing benefit or universal credit housing element where you live now. You cannot get a DHP to cover a rent shortfall if your benefits have been reduced because of an overpayment.

How soon you can apply after claiming universal credit?

You can apply for a DHP at the end of your first universal credit assessment period. This is usually one month after you first made your universal credit claim.

What the council looks at

Give the council as much information as you can to explain why you need a DHP. Tell the council:
  • why you need help with your rent
  • what has caused your rent shortfall - for example, you have to pay the bedroom tax or have lost income
  • if you are at risk of homelessness because of your rent shortfall or rent arrears
DHPs are usually only paid for a limited period. You may have to apply for another DHP at the end of the period. If your council turns your application down, you can ask them to reconsider if you think the decision is unfair. You can also apply for a DHP again. Councils receive new funding for DHPs every financial year.
Tell the council if you have new information to support your application.

How much can be paid?

Each case is different. You may get enough to cover all the shortfall in your rent or costs or just part of what you have to pay. DHPs may be paid weekly, fortnightly, monthly or as a lump sum. Payments can be backdated

Can I claim Universal Credit?

You can easily apply for Universal Credit online. You have to apply as a couple if you and your partner live together. You do not need to be married. The Universal Credit team might phone you after you have sent your application if they need more information or if you cannot verify your identity online.
You cannot claim Universal Credit and tax credits at the same time. If you get tax credits, they will stop when you or your partner applies for Universal Credit.

What you need to apply

You will need:
  • your bank, building society or credit union account details (call the Universal Credit helpline if you do not have one)
  • an email address
  • information about your housing, for example how much rent you pay
  • details of your income, for example payslips
  • details of savings and any investments, like shares or a property that you rent out
  • details of how much you pay for childcare if you’re applying for help with childcare costs
If you do not provide the right information when you apply it might affect when you get paid or how much you get. You also have to verify your identity online. You will need some proof of identity for this, for example your:
  • driving licence
  • passport
  • debit or credit card

If you cannot verify your identity online

The Universal Credit team will phone you to help you verify your identity.

Help with your application

If you need help with your application, ask straight away - the sooner you apply for Universal Credit, the sooner you get your first payment.

Universal Credit helpline

Contact the Universal Credit helpline if:
  • you cannot use digital services at all, this might be due to disability or your circumstances
  • you have a question about your claim and cannot access your online claim
Universal Credit helpline: 0800 328 5644
Relay UK (if you cannot hear or speak on the phone): 18001 then 0800 328 5644
Textphone: 0800 328 1344 Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Universal Credit Top tips

  • If you receive a housing element, remember that this is to pay the rent. So either set up a direct debit or standing order to your landlord so you cannot spend it by mistake. You can also request that the housing element is paid directly to the Landlord. To do this you just have to click on the ‘Add Housing Cost’ button on your Universal Credit account online, and fill in the details of how much rent is to be paid, the landlords details and how often it is to be paid (weekly, monthly etc): universal-credit.service.gov.uk/sign-in
  • PIP (personal independent payment) This is not means tested and will not affect other benefits. This can be complicated to apply for so get in touch with your Tenancy Support Officer for support
  • Journal entries are a good way to see what your work coach needs you to do as well as any outstanding tasks you need to complete. Its also a good way to communicate with your work coach and keep a record of your communications.
  • Make sure that you have any documents that have been requested by, or even better before, the deadline they have been asked for by. And if you are having problems, contact your work coach and let them know via your journal.
  • Ensure you upload any medical certificates on time and before the old one is due to expire.
  • Make sure that all payslips (if you are working) are sent in on time.
  • Keep your work coach up to date with any changes in your situation, this could include, changes in your hours at work, changes in rent, having children or if someone is joining or leaving your household etc.

I am struggling to get enough food, can I get help?

Everyone faces hard times and there is help out there. If you are struggling financially make sure you contact our Tenancy Support team as they are here to try and make sure you have the right support and benefits etc. and may be able to help with your budgeting to improve things. There are also food banks which are there to provide you with food.

Where are the local food banks?

Here are the opening times and locations for our food bank centres. Everyone who comes to the foodbank for emergency food needs to have a valid foodbank voucher.
Ely Distribution Centre
Countess Free Church, Chapel Street, Ely, CB6 1AD
Tue   11:00 - 12:30 & Fri 13:00 - 14:30
Soham Distribution Centre
Scout Hut, Recreation Ground, Fountain Lane, Soham, CB7 5ED
Tue       09:30 - 11:00
Haddenham Distribution Centre
Holy Trinity Church, Church Lane, Haddenham, CB6 3TB
Mon 13:00 - 14:00

Useful Contacts and further information:

Anglia Revenues Partnership 
Postal address: Anglia Revenues Partnership, Breckland House, St Nicholas Street, Thetford, Norfolk, IP24 1BT.
Jobcentre Plus
Your local Jobcentre Plus can administer claims for Jobseeker's Allowance, Incapacity Benefit, Employment and Support Allowance and Income Support.
01353 605426
52 Market Street
0345 604 3719
Wellington Street
Sanctuary housing
0800 131 3348 (landline)
0300 123 3511 (mobile)
Non-urgent housing and repair enquiries: sanctuary-housing.co.uk/contact-us
CHS Group
0300 111 3 555
Office hours are Monday – Friday 09:00-17:00 (except bank holidays)
CHS tenants & shared owners can use the myCHS online portal: portal.chsgroup.org.uk
You can also use the contact us page: chsgroup.org.uk/make-an-enquiry
0808 168 4555
The Contact Centre is open from 7am - 7pm Monday to Friday.
Outside of these hours, if you have an emergency repair (something which is causing significant damage to your home) you can contact them on the freephone number above.
email: info@flagship-homes.co.uk or complete the online form at: flagship-homes.co.uk/contact-us/
Longhurst Group
0300 123 1745
via the contact page: longhurst-group.org.uk/contact