A few weeks ago I signed up for Job Seekers Allowance for the first time in my life, so the process is new and confusing for me.
I've been accepted, which is fine, but when I did the application online originally I also asked for help with my rent and counsil tax. My acceptance letter for job seekers makes no mention of either of these, and I haven't heard about them through any other way. My next appointment with my advisor is next Wednesday, but my rent is due that Friday so I need to figure this out soon.
What's the usual process? Did I miss something out and need to speak with someone, or would it just be working it's way through the system?
They may have forwarded something to your local council but it would be faster to get an application form from their website or in person, this needs to go to your council's Benefits Section (that may be incorpated in the Council Tax/Housing section) along with as much evidence of your (combined) household income that you can provide (if they need anything else they will ask for more, usually 3 months of statements or payslips is enough), your NIN and passport/driving license. With your evidence together you can usually arrange to have an on-the-spot assessment where you sit and wait and they do the calculations to hell you how much you should get, the council should then send you a rundown of what you are entitled to and when/how it will be paid (usually by BACs) in the post after that.
After you have applied you need to be extremely careful about sending in your latest payslips/statements on time so that you aren't charged for overpayments that can take months or even years to repay when you are employed, because depending on your circumstances they may provide some or even all of your rent.
Depending on the council the housing benefit and council tax relief app may be combined into one form.
Bear in mind it is typical to receive more in housing benefit than council tax relief - you must pay your council tax for the most part. Tax comes before landlords and landlords are never liable to pay it if you are the liable adult (leaseholder or lead tenant over 18), although you can also receive a single person occupancy discount if it's a 1 bed flat and you are not co-habiting with a woman (yes, that counts as a couple and so a joint application).
If you are confused by any of this the best people to go for advice are the council themselves or if they are rubbish the CAB who can do it all with you.
They asked for a copy of my tenancy agreement the first time I had to go to the job centre, and like I said I've already been accepted onto Job-seekers allowance so they have some details from me already. When I applied for Job seekers there was an option to say I wanted help with housing and council tax, and they acknowledged this during that first meeting.
I just find it odd that I haven't received any documentation from them regarding my application.
Does it normally take longer for these two to be processed?
Since it was the job centre I last talked to about this would they be the ones I need to speak to? I've never spoken directly with my council about this so far.
I've never applied for benefits other than JSA via JobCentre. I was ultimately strawberry floated over, told I was entitled to something and then got the final award 7 weeks later that I wasn't entitled to anything. Then I went directly to the council and was eligible for something like half my rent.
Based on that experience I wouldn't listen to anything the JC says. It doesn't matter if they already have info on you, the fastest thing is to go to the council. All they will do is photocopy the same stuff, the good thing is you have it to hand. JC are totally incompetent doing basic things like emailing documents even between desks! And everything is processed up north in some kind of Dr Who style terisphere fortress where everything is signed by JOB CENTRE PLUS and printed on tissue paper weeks after it happens.
I'm not kidding when I say I wouldn't even bother applying for JSA. You do not need to be claiming JSA to claim either housing benefit or council tax relief. The later are always handled by the council, eventually. It will be a much, much smaller office that's actually possible to talk to. Call them. May be different if you live in a massive city or borough though.
The key thing is from a financial standpoint, if you really need the support, you are very unlikely to be awarded anything sooner than when you filed the claim. Never depend on the Job Centre to file anything, do it yourself directly to the council before you accrue debt you can't recover from, or you might not be able to pay your rent. It can be sorted in a few days, and you can collect a form from your local council office.