Benefit Changes & Welfare reform
The Government is changing the way benefits are paid this is called welfare reform. These changes affect our customers in different ways.
We have a dedicated Welfare Reform team if you require any information call 0333 400 8222 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The changes include the following listed below.
UNDER OCCUPANCY PENALTY
Also known as the bedroom tax. Housing Benefit may be cut if you are under pension credit age and have spare bedrooms in your home.
The Government has decided there should be a limit on how much benefit one household can claim. You may be exempt from the benefit cap depending on your circumstances for example if a member of your household is disabled.
What is the Benefit Cap?
The benefit Cap has been introduced by the Government to limit the maximum amount of benefit a family can receive.
How might this affect me?
If you are a couple or have children your benefit cap is currently ££384.62 per week including Housing Benefit.
If you are a single person with no children the Benefit Cap is £257.69 per week for those living outside of London.
Does this include all of my current benefits?
The following benefits are included when calculating whether your household exceeds the cap:
- Child Benefit and Guardian’s Allowance
- Child Tax Credit
- Employment and Support Allowance (except when in the support group)
- Housing Benefit
- Incapacity Benefit
- Income Support
- Job Seekers Allowance
- Maternity Allowance
- Severe Disablement Allowance
- Universal Credit (unless you have an in-work exemption)
- Widowed Parent’s Allowance and Bereavement Allowance.
What do I need to do?
Local authorities will shortly be writing to anyone who think may be affected with advice on what you should do next.
If you have a query relating to your individual circumstances please call us on 0333 400 8222 and ask to speak to a member of your local Customer Accounts team.
Alternatively, you can call the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) national helpline (open 8am-6pm, Monday to Friday):
Telephone: 0345 605 7064
Textphone: 0345 608 8551
CHANGES TO THE LOCAL HOUSING ALLOWANCE (HOW MUCH HELP YOU MIGHT GET TOWARDS YOUR RENT)
If you live in general needs accomodation and are in receipt of Universal Credit the Housing element of Universal Credit that you may receive from 1 April 2019 could be restricted.
If you live in general needs accommodation, and you have signed a new or renewed tenancy from 1 April 2016 or later, the amount of Housing Benefit or the Housing element of Universal Credit that you may receive from 1 April 2019 could be restricted.
The amount of help towards the total rent and service charges that you will receive will be limited to the relevant Local Housing Allowance rate for your household size.
This is because the relevant Local Housing Allowance rate for your household size is based on how many bedrooms you need, and not on the size of the property. This may mean that from April 2019 your benefit will not cover all of your rent, and you will have to pay any shortfall on your rent yourself.
You can find out how many bedrooms your household will be paid for by going to this bedroom calculator page.
Once you know how many bedrooms you are entitled to be paid for, you can see what the Local Housing Allowance rate for you is.
Then check what your weekly full rent and service charge is. If your rent is higher than the relevant local housing allowance, you will need to pay the difference from the 1st April 2019.
If you are under 35 years old and do not have any dependent children living with you, your eligible rent will be limited to the shared accommodation rate even if you do not share your home with anyone else. The rate for your area can be found at http://lha-direct.voa.gov.uk/Search.aspx
Are You Under 22?
If you are under 22 and claiming universal credit you may not receive any help with housing costs from 1st April 2017.
More information about housing costs for 18 to 21 year olds single people can be found here:
If you are unsure if this applies to you, please contact us or your local authority.