You may have heard about the welfare reform changes that started in 2013. Many existing benefits are due to be abolished and replaced by a new benefits system.
This section of the website aims to provide up to date information on benefit changes and where to find more information and assistance should you be affected.
From 6th April 2017
From the 6 April 2017, there are restrictions on the assessment of Housing Benefit in respect of households with three or more children in accordance with the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016. Currently it is still unclear if the Scottish Government will also apply the restrictions to Council Tax Reduction.
There is protection for existing claimants who have more than two children and they will continue to receive Benefit based on the actual number of children they have. If they subsequently end their Housing Benefit and then make a new claim then this protection will be lost. If an existing claimant has any additional children after the 5 April 2017 no additional applicable amount for that child will be awarded, potentially reducing the amount of Housing Benefit that could be awarded.
There are some exceptions in allowing additional child allowances however this will be the decision of HM Revenue and Customs, not local authorities.
The restriction assessment on the number of children in a household does not affect the room allowance used to calculate Housing Benefit.
From 7th November 2016 - Reduction in Benefit Cap
From 7th November the benefit cap has been reduced.
The benefit cap means there is a limit on the total amount of certain benefits you can get if you are working age. This will only affect you if you're getting housing benefit or Universal Credit. If the cap affects you, your housing benefit or Universal Credit is reduced.
The new limits are:
- £384.62 a week if you are a couple or have children (reduction of £115.38 per week)
- £257.69 a week if you are a single person (reduction of £92.31 per week)
If the cap applies this means that if a tenants income from certain benefits is more than the cap, their benefit will be cut. The amount of money you get above the benefit cap limit will be taken from housing benefit or Universal Credit.
For more information, please see here.
From 1st April 2016
National Living Age – If you are over 25 and in work, you should be paid the National Living Wage as a minimum which is currently £7.20 an hour. If you receive housing benefit and your wages have recently increased as a result of the National Living Age, you should notify housing benefit of this change of circumstances as it can affect your entitlement. If you require any assistance with this, please contact the office for an appointment with our Welfare Rights Assistant or come along to the drop-in on Fridays between 10am and 12pm.
Benefits Frozen – Most benefits and tax credits have been frozen for the next four years. This means there will be no increase in benefits during this time.
Reduction in backdating periods – The length of time for which housing benefit can be backdated has now reduced. Claims could previously be backdated for a period of up to six months and this has now reduced to just four weeks. It is vital that all changes in circumstances and new claims for housing benefit are completed as quickly as possible to ensure all benefit due is received and arrears do not accrue on rent accounts. Our Welfare Rights Assistant offers advice and assistance with all types of benefit queries so please get in touch if you require her help with anything related to housing benefit.
Temporary Absence – The duration of time for which housing benefit will be paid whilst you are temporarily away from your home is also set to be reduced. If you are planning to be out of the country on a temporary basis and receive housing benefit, payment of benefit will only continue for four weeks whilst you are away – reduced from thirteen weeks. This change is set to be implemented in summer 2016.