The Government is making lots of changes over the next few years to the current benefits system, which could affect you. The Welfare Reform Act was passed by Parliament in early 2012 and is set to completely change the way in which welfare benefits, including Housing Benefit, are paid. The Act introduces a wide range of reforms which the Government states are to make the benefits and tax credits system fairer and simpler.
The situation is continually changing and, at the time of writing, the full effect of the reforms are still not yet fully known. We understand this is a difficult and challenging time for many of you, but if you are currently claiming benefits it's important you are aware of and understand the Government's reforms and how they could affect you.
A summary of the key changes can be found below with links to further web pages which have been designed to keep you up to date with the changes and how they may affect you. Further information can also be found by downloading the National Housing Federation's leaflet 'What you need to know about changes to housing benefit' from the bottom of this page.
You can also watch our welfare reform video to find out how the changes may affect you.
From April 2013 a limit will be put on the total amount of benefits that most people aged between 16 and 64 can receive. This is called a Benefit Cap. Housing benefit payments will be capped if you are living in a home that is larger than you need.
If you are a single occupant living in a three bedroom property, your housing benefit will be allocated based on the need of one person, not on the number of bedrooms of the property.
Set up a basic bank account
If you receive housing benefit, you will need to set up a basic bank account as this money, along with other Department of Work and Pensions Benefits, will be paid directly to you from April 2013. You will need to use this money to pay us your rent. Please contact your local bank to arrange setting up an account if you don't already have one. For more information about basic bank accounts visit www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk or download the 'Different types of basic bank account' leaflet below.
From October 2013, the Government will introduce Universal Credit for people of working age. This is a new single payment of benefits for people who are looking for work or on a low income. Universal Credit will replace individual benefits including:
From April 2013, Housing Benefit will be restricted to only allow payments for one bedroom for each person or couple. If you have a spare bedroom you will be regarded as 'under-occupying' the property and Housing Benefit will no longer pay for the additional room.
A non-dependant person is someone who is over the age of 18 and lives in your home with you and your family. This could be an adult son or daughter or elderly relative. The amount of Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Benefit that you receive could reduce because you have a non-dependant person living in your home.
Personal Independence Payment
From 2013, the Government will be introducing a Personal Independence Payment to replace the Disability Living Allowance for people of working age (between 16-64 years old). Further information can be found at www.dwp.gov.uk
Timeline of changes
|January 2013||April 2013||October 2013||April 2014|
|Personal Independence Payment introduced||Housing benefit will be capped if you live in a home larger than you need||New benefit claimants will start receiving Universal Credit||Existing benefit claimants will be moved on to the Universal Credit benefit|
If you're not sure how these changes will affect you or not sure what you need to do in preperation for these changes, call the Income Management Team on 01992 514 514. You can also access free, confidential advice about these benefit changes, debt concerns or housing matters by speaking to Citizens Advice. Visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk to find your local bureau.