Citizen Access Benefits

Citizen Access Benefits is our housing benefit and council tax support website.

On the Citizen Access Benefits website you can:

  • make a claim for housing benefit and the council tax support scheme
  • tell us about a change in circumstances
  • view your claim and letters
  • upload supporting evidence

Go to Citizen Access Benefits

Once you have accessed it, do not bookmark or save the page to favourites as it may not work properly when you next try to visit it. You can save this page to your favourites and use the button to access Citizen Access Benefits again.

You may find the guidance below helpful when using Citizen Access Benefits. 

New claims

Decisions on new claims

If you have a new claim and a decision hasn't been made on it yet, you will not be able to view your claim details or tell us of a change in circumstances. 

Once a decision has been made on your claim we will contact you to let you know.

Saving a new claim

You can only save a new claim once you reach the summary screen.

You need to set answers to 3 security questions when saving your claim. Once your claim is saved a Citizen Access key is emailed to you (be sure to check your junk or spam folders). You can read more about access keys below.

You need the key to continue your claim and must complete and submit it within 14 days of saving it.

You must set your 3 security answers or your claim cannot be continued and you will need to begin again.

Continuing a saved new claim

You need to enter some details and the Citizen Access key you were sent. Once those details are validated a security question will appear. 

Once you answer the security question you can continue your claim.

You will not be able to continue with your form if:

  • 14 days or more have passed since the form was last saved
  • you did not set your 3 security answers when saving the form

In these cases you will need to begin a new form.

Problems continuing a saved new claim

If you have problems accessing a saved claim see the sections below about changes and Citizen Access keys.

If you are still unable to access a claim contact benefits@bracknell-forest.gov.uk and tell us the details you are using so we can try and trace your claim.

You will not be able to continue with your form if:

  • 14 days or more have passed since the form was last saved
  • you did not set your 3 security answers when saving the form

In these cases you will need to begin a new form.

Submitting a claim

You must complete all sections shown on the summary screen to enable the submit button. 

Completed sections display a green 'Done' icon. 

 

Incomplete sections display a red 'Not Done' icon. 

 

Icons are shown in each section heading.

If all sections display green 'Done' icons but you are still unable to submit your claim contact benefits@bracknell-forest.gov.uk

Error message - numeric value or SQL

This happens when incorrect details or high values are entered into a field.  For example:

  • a letter is used instead of a number or a number is used instead of a letter, such as:
    • the letter O instead of the number 0
    • the letter l instead of the number 1
    • the letter S instead of the number 5
  • a special character is used – such as: £, /, #, &, +, !
  • use of a claim reference number that is not recognised, for example if you mistakenly use your:
    • council tax account number
    • tracking reference
    • access key 
  • if applying for housing benefit, the number of rooms in the property is less than the number of rooms used by the household - for example, 1 bedroom in property but 2 bedrooms used

To fix the error, check the answers you have entered to identify the field which includes the error.  You can do this by returning to the summary screen.

If you are unable to identify the error, save your claim and contact benefits@bracknell-forest.gov.uk to tell us about the error. 

Please note, if you cannot save your claim or the error cannot be identified or fixed you will need to make a new claim.

Error message - system error occurred, please try again later

This happens when:

  • you insert another number (such as your council tax account) instead of your housing benefit claim number
  • you insert letters into the building society roll number field
  • there is a technical issue with our back-office systems

If you inserted an incorrect housing benefit claim number or letters in the roll number field you can fix the error by changing the number or deleting the letters. You can return to the questions by returning to the summary screen.

If you do not have a claim number (or have forgotten it) or you do not have a building society account, save your claim as you will not be able to submit it until the technical issue is fixed.

You must set your 3 security answers or your claim cannot be continued and you will need to begin again.

Once your claim is saved or if you are unable to save your claim, contact benefits@bracknell-forest.gov.uk so we can investigate the issue.

Tracking reference

A tracking reference is sent to you as confirmation that you have successfully submitted a new claim. 

A tracking reference is not:

  • a Citizens Access key
  • your claim reference number

Don't forget to set your 3 security answers when you save your new claim. If you don't set these you will not be able to continue with your form and you will have to start a new one.

You have up to 14 days to go back to continue your form. If 14 days have passed you will need to start a new one.

Changes

Tell us about a change in your circumstances

To tell us about change in your circumstances you will need your:

  • first name
  • last name
  • National Insurance number
  • date of birth
  • postcode
  • benefit claim reference

Once you have entered your details you will be emailed a one-time code that you will need to enter.

If you don't get the email, please check your junk or spam folders.

If change of circumstances is not available

When you use Citizen Access Benefits to tell us about a change in your circumstances, we must process it before you can use the portal to tell us about another change.  

To fix this error, you can either:

If your details are not recognised

This error usually happens when:

  • the Citizens Access key does not work
  • the details you are entering do not match the details we hold for you
  • you are trying to tell us about a change, but your claim has already ended
  • you are using your tracking reference number or council tax account number instead of your claim number

This error can often be fixed by:

  • making a new claim if your claim has ended 
  • requesting another access key
  • making sure you use your claim number

If the error persists or you do not know your claim number and need to enter it contact benefits@bracknell-forest.gov.uk and tell us:

  • what you are trying to do - for example to:
    • tell us about a change
    • continue a claim you have started
    • register for or view online letters
  • the full details you are entering so we can check for mismatches - if possible, include a screenshot of the details you are using

Access keys

Citizens Access keys

Citizens Access keys are auto-generated by the system at the point of request.

Only the most recent access key is valid. You cannot use old access keys once a new one has been requested.

You need a new Citizen Access Key for each part of the portal you are visiting.

You can only use your key once.

If you don’t get your Access key email

The email address that your key will be sent to will be the email address we hold for you on your claim. If you have changed your email address then please contact benefits@bracknell-forest.gov.uk to tell us so that we can update our records.

In some cases you may not receive an email when using the 'Report a change in circumstances' link.

If this happens, use the 'View my claim summary' option to request a key.

Once you sign in to your claim summary, you can use the 'report a change' link in the 'Popular Services' section in the top-right corner of the screen.

If you still don't receive an email contact benefits@bracknell-forest.gov.uk.

Online letters

How to register for online letters

Sign up to get email alerts when a new housing benefit or council tax support letter is ready for you to view.

Please note you can only view any benefit decision letters created from the date you sign up.

You only need to register for online letters once. You can do this when making a new claim or by using the register for online letters option.

You do not need to register again when you have letters to view.

If you are not able to register for online letters see the section above on If your details are not recognised.

If you can’t view your online letters

To view your online letters you need to have registered first using the ‘register for online letters’ link.

You can only view letters that are issued to you from the date you register for online letters.

You will receive an email to let you know when letters are available.

You do not need to register again to view your online letters. 

If you are not able to view your letters see the section above on If your details are not recognised.

Error message - maximum number of attempts exceeded

If you see a message saying 'Maximum number of access attempts exceeded. Please try later.' you need to wait for one hour before trying again.

Uploading proof

How to upload proof

The proof you can upload is limited to certain file types and a maximum size limit. 

You can upload your proof using the upload evidence facility in the benefits portal

We can accept images in these file formats: 

  • pdf
  • gif
  • jpg
  • jpeg
  • tiff
  • png

Please make sure the name of the file is not bigger than 30 characters.

If you can’t upload your proof

When making a new claim or telling us about a change, you can upload proof within the forms when answering questions or just before you submit your claim.

In some cases:

  • the browser may freeze
  • the upload will get stuck and not complete
  • you may get an error message ‘system error – please try again later’

If your upload fails or you have already submitted your claim or change, you can upload your proof separately using the Upload my Evidence facility.

File name length error

If you get the error message  that the file name cannot be more than 30 characters, the file name will need to be made smaller.

This sometimes happens for example when you have taken a screenshot from your phone and then uploaded the screenshot on to Citizen Access Benefits. You can fix this, if you are able to, by sending the screenshots to a PC or Mac and then renaming the file. If you are unable to do this, then please email your proof to benefits@bracknell-forest.gov.uk

Types of proof

See our supporting documents page for information about the types of proof you can give us.

Claim summary

How to view your claim summary

To view your claim summary you will need your:

  • first name
  • last name
  • National Insurance number
  • date of birth
  • postcode
  • benefit claim reference

Once you have entered your details you will be emailed a one-time code that you will need to enter.

If you don't get the email, please check your junk or spam folders.

Information shown in your claim summary

Information shown in your claim summary includes:

  • the benefit you are claiming
  • the current amount of weekly benefit
  • your payment history
  • your next Housing Benefit payment amount and date due
  • the amount of any outstanding overpayment you have
  • your weekly overpayment recovery rate – please note that although you may see a recovery rate on your claim summary, unless you have an amount showing in your ‘overpayment outstanding’  this if for information purposes only
  • your benefit entitlement history

You can also view the financial details that we are including in your current claim.

Information about your 'applicable amount', rent or non-dependant deductions is not available in the claim summary.

This information is detailed in your online letters.

If you can’t see your claim summary

You will not be able to view your claim summary if:

  • the Citizens Access key does not work
  • the details you are entering do not match the details we hold for you
  • your claim has already ended

This error can often be fixed by:

  • requesting another access key
  • making sure you are entering your details correctly
  • making a new claim if your claim has ended 

If your claim has not ended and the error persists contact benefits@bracknell-forest.gov.uk

Tell us the full details you are entering so we can check for mismatches - if possible, include a screenshot of the details you are using.

Email address

For some of the services on Citizen Access Benefits, you will need an email address.

If you don't have an email address

If you do not have an email address, the Learn My Way guide will help you set up an account.

If you cannot use an email address, please contact us by phone on 01344 352010.

Getting help

If you have an issue that is not explained on this page please contact your Welfare and Housing Caseworker.

If you do not have a caseworker allocated to your case, please contact the Welfare and Housing Service by:

Your personal information

Any personal information you give us is held securely and will only be used for council purposes. Information collected for one purpose may be used for another purpose by the council unless there are legal restrictions preventing this.

Using your information in this way helps us to deliver more efficient services that can be tailored to your needs and preferences.

We will not share your information with third parties for commercial or marketing purposes.

We may share your personal information with other agencies (for example law enforcement agencies) where the law requires us to or where it is appropriate to support our duty to protect public funds or detect and prevent fraud.

Please see our privacy notice for more information.