Your housing benefit can be backdated for up to three months if you are of pension credit age. You don't have to give reasons for not claiming earlier.Your claim for housing benefit won't be backdated for the full three months if you were not of pension credit age or paying rent on your current home for all that time.

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Today’s publication details the number of sanctions imposed from when the new regime was introduced in October 2012 up until June 2013.

The figures show that there has been a rise in the number of sanctions compared to last year.

Crucially, people are always made aware of their right to appeal before any sanction is imposed.

People who are in genuine need can apply for hardship payments.

There is not much space on the form so you should include a covering letter to explain your circumstances in more detail and enclose supporting evidence where needed.

Use Shelter's template letter to ask for your housing benefit to be backdated.It will roll out in around 100 jobcentres a month until it’s fully implemented across the country in the spring. Sanctions are used as a last resort and the has put in place a comprehensive monitoring regime to ensure that sanctions are always and only applied where appropriate to do so.The decision to impose a sanction is taken by an independent decision maker – and everyone has the right to appeal.It also makes sanctions more proportionate: with shorter sanctions for minor offences and tougher ones for repeat offenders.Repeat offenders can lose benefits for up to 3 years.People in this group are expected to be able to return to work in the future and so have to attend support programmes as a condition of receiving their benefits.