There are a lot of changes happening at the moment to who can receive benefits, how much they can receive, and how the process works.
If you have any questions or concerns about the benefits you might be entitled to please, please contact us or call 0115 916 6066.
Remember, if you do not pay your rent you may lose your home.
Here is an overview of the support you might be entitled to, and the major changes taking place that may affect you:
If you are unemployed or on a low income you may be entitled to financial help to pay your rent.
You can use a benefits calculator to find out what benefits you’re entitled to:
- Turn2us– for information on income-related benefits, tax credits, Council Tax Reduction, Carer’s Allowance, Universal Credit and how your benefits will be affected if you start work or change your working hours
- entitledto– for information on income-related benefits, tax credits, contribution-based benefits, Council Tax Reduction, Carer’s Allowance, Universal Credit and how your benefits will be affected if you start work
Even if you receive housing benefit you must pay your full rent in advance. This is also the case if part of your rent is paid by housing benefit.
To apply for housing benefit you must make an appointment with the local council’s housing benefit office immediately or submit a completed housing benefit form in person – and always get a receipt for your application.
When you apply you will have to show:
- Your signed tenancy agreement
- Proof of Income Support and other benefits and/or
- The last five weeks pay slips or the last two months if you are paid monthly
- Your National Insurance number
- Proof of your identity (passport or birth certificate)
- Bank or building society statements
- Proof of income or attendance at school/ college of anyone else in your household.
The above information must be provided to the housing benefit department immediately so that your claim can be processed without delay.
You must also:
- Regularly check the progress of your claim.
- Regular contact will make sure your claim is processed speedily
- Provide any information asked for by the housing benefit office immediately
- Let the housing benefit office and your revenue officer know straight away of any changes in your finances or household
For information on housing benefit from the government.s website, click here.
From October 2013, Universal Credit (UC) will start to replace six different benefits for working-aged claimants.
These benefits are:
- Housing benefit
- Income-based jobseeker’s allowance
- Income-related employment and support allowance
- Income support
- Working tax credit
- Child tax credit
UC can only be claimed and managed online. Claims will be administered by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) at a central location rather than by your local council, Job Centre Plus, or benefits agency.
If you are single, of working age (not in receipt of state pension), and need to make a new claim for Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, you will only be able to claim UC.
UC will be paid monthly in arrears directly into your bank or building society account, so you should budget for your money to last the whole month.
Once you start to claim UC, we will no longer receive housing benefit directly from the Local Authority on your behalf. You will be responsible for paying your rent and service charges to us. Your tenancy agreement says that you have to pay your rent in advance and once you are transferred to UC, you will need to make sure that it is paid on time. If you do not pay your rent you may lose your home.
You won’t be affected by Universal Credit if you and your partner have both reached the qualifying age for pension credit, or if at least one of you has an existing claim to Pension Credit. You can check the age you are eligible for state pension here.
From April 2019, the Government is making changes to Housing Benefit and Universal Credit payments to people of working age.
For tenants receiving Housing Benefit, the changes will affect those who signed a new tenancy agreement (or renewed an existing one) from 1 April 2016. All tenants in receipt of Universal Credit will be affected – regardless of when they signed their tenancy agreement.
What is changing?
Housing Benefits payments – or the housing element of Universal credit – will equal the Local Housing Allowance for the area you live in and the size property you are entitled to. This means that the amount of money you receive may go down.
If you are a single, under 35 years old, and do not have any dependent children living with you, your eligible rent could be capped to a shared accommodation rate even if you do not share your home with anyone else. Most single people over 35 years old, certain under-22-year-olds, and couples with no dependent children will be entitled to the rate for a one-bedroom property.
To find out what the Local Housing Allowance is for your area, click here.
If you are of working age and considered to have one or more spare bedrooms, your housing benefit will be reduced as follows:
- by 14% if you have one spare bedroom
- by 25% if you have two or more spare bedroom.
You will be allocated one bedroom for:
- Each adult couple
- Any other person aged 16 or over
- Two children of the same sex under the age of 16
- Two children under the age of ten, regardless of their sex
- Any other child
- A carer (who does not normally live with you) if you or your partner need overnight care
Any additional bedrooms count as a spare bedroom. It does not matter how the spare bedroom is used.
The new rules apply even if:
- You or your partner need to sleep apart because of a medical condition
- The main residence of your children is another address, but you have a spare room for when they stay with you
You should be allowed an extra bedroom if you have children who are unable to share because of their severe disabilities – this is for the council to decide. You will not be allowed an extra bedroom for adults who are unable to share because of disability.
Foster carers and residents with children serving in the armed forces who continue to live with parents will be entitled to an extra bedroom.
You will not be affected if:
- You live in a one bedroom flat or bedsit, or
- You or your partner is old enough to receive pension credits. You can calculate your state pension age here.
If your benefit is cut, you will have to pay any shortfall in your rent.
For more information, on whether a room counts as an extra bedroom for housing benefit, click here.
If you have lived in your home and had a continuous claim to housing benefit since before 1996:
The department for work and pensions has announced that the bedroom tax should not have been applied in cases where residents have had a continuous claim for housing benefit and have lived in the same property since before 1 January 1996.
If you meet these conditions, you can ask your local council to have your claim reassessed and, if successful, will be able to receive money backdated to April 2013. It does not matter how many bedrooms are in your home. You should contact your local council housing benefit department for details on how to do this now.
The department for work and pensions has said that it will amend regulations so that any award will only last up to the point that new regulations come into effect.
The benefit cap limits the amount a working age person can get from welfare benefits.
From November 2016, the cap on the overall amount of benefit you can receive for working age households was reduced.
The maximum amount of benefit you will be able to receive will be:
- £384.62 per week for single parents
- £384.62 per week for couples with or without children
- £257.69 per week for single people without children
The government will add up how much money you get from a range of benefits, including:
- Housing benefit
- Income support
- Jobseeker’s allowance
- Employment and support allowance
- Child benefit and child tax credits
- Incapacity benefit
- Universal credit
If the total amount of benefits you receive comes to more than the maximum amount allowed, your housing benefit payments will be reduced. This means that you will have to make up the shortfall in payment towards your rent.
For more information on the benefits cap, click here.
A Discretionary Housing Payment is for people in need of extra financial assistance on top of their Housing Benefit.
You must be entitled to Housing Benefit or the Housing Costs element of Universal Credit to apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment.
It is available to people who are not receiving enough to cover their rent. There can be several reasons for this, for example:
- your Local Housing Allowance is lower than your rent in private rented property
- your Housing Benefit is reduced because of non-dependant deductions/housing costs contributions
- your Housing Benefit is reduced because you are working age and it has been decided that you have a spare bedroom in social rented property
- your Housing Benefit is reduced due to the Benefit Cap
Discretionary Housing Payment is also available for one-off costs like a rent deposit, rent in advance or removal costs to help you move into a new home.
Discretionary Housing Payment cannot be used to cover an increase in rent due to arrears or to make up the difference if an overpayment is being recovered from your Housing Benefit. It also can’t help to cover certain sanctions or reductions in benefit.
If you think you may be entitled to Discretionary Housing Payment, please contact us.
For more information on discretionary housing benefits, click here.
Non-dependents are any adult family members over 18 for whom you do not receive child benefit. For example, adult sons or daughters, siblings or parents count as non-dependents.
They can also be friends who live with you but do not pay you rent. If you think this may affect you, please check with your housing officer.
If you have a non-dependent living with you, your Housing Benefit will reduce by the amounts shown below. (Note working hours should be 16 hours a week or more)
Aged under 25 and receiving Income Support, JSA(IB),
Receiving Pension Credit
Aged 25 or over and receiving Income Support / JSA(IB) / ESA(IR)
Aged 18 or over and receiving main phase ESA(IR)
Aged 18 or over and not in remunerative work
Aged 18 or over and in remunerative work:
JSA (IB) – income-based jobseeker’s allowance
ESA(IR) – income-related employment and support allowance
Assessment phase – the first 13 weeks of ESA
Where overpayment of Housing Benefit has arisen the basic maximum rate of recovery from continuing HB is currently £11.10. Where the overpayment has arisen because of fraud the basic maximum rate is £18.50 per week.
You will NOT be affected if you are in receipt of Disability Living Allowance with a Care Component.
If you are affected by non-dependent deduction – you could apply to your local council for a discretionary housing payment (DHP).
From April 2017, if you are aged under 22-years-old and have a change in your circumstances or need to claim benefits, you may not be eligible for the housing element of UC.
This means that you will have to pay your rent from your personal element.
This could be more than you are receiving each month.
However, there are exceptions if you:
- are a vulnerable adult who is unable to return home to your parents
- are leaving or have left care
- have children
- are claiming DLA or PIP
- have been in work for six months prior to making your claim for UC
- are suffering from domestic violence
- are working at least 16 hours at the National Minimum Wage
If you are single, aged under 35, and became a tenant after April 2016, your Housing Benefit will be reduced from April 2018. You will be entitled to enough Housing Benefit to rent a room in a shared house – the Shared Room Rate (SRR). This rate is set by local councils, and so varies from area to area.
If you choose to rent a flat or house rather than a single room in a shared house, you will have to pay the extra rent that your SSR does not cover.
For example, in Leicester, the SRR is £60, but the average cost to rent a one bedroom flat is £92. This means that a person who receives SRR would have to find an additional £32 each week to cover the cost of their rent – or consider moving into a room in a shared house.
If you are single, between the ages of 18 and 21, from April 2017 you will not have an automatic right to claim Housing Benefit, nor to the housing cost element of Universal Credit. The Government expects people in this age group who cannot afford to rent a home on their own to live with their parents.
There are a few exemptions to these new rules. For example, if you have been working and not claimed Housing Benefit in the last year, or if you have a severe disability. Please talk to your Housing Officer if you think you ought to be exempt, so that we can check for you.
Since April 2013, local council tax support schemes have replaced council tax benefit, with each council implementing its own scheme. Under council tax support, most working age claimants have to pay something towards their council tax bill.
If you are affected, you should have received information from your council, outlining how much you have to pay. If you are not sure whether you are affected, or want to know more, you should contact your council.
Community care grants and crisis loans for general living expenses were abolished in April 2013, and replaced with new local provision within each council. More information about provision in your area is available from your council.
Personal Independence Payments were introduced from April 2013 to replace disability living allowance for eligible people aged 16 to 64.
It helps towards some of the extra costs arising from a long term ill-health condition or disability and is based on how a person’s condition affects them, not the condition they have. It is not means-tested or subject to tax and it is payable to people who are both in and out of work.
To find out more about personal independence payments, click here.
Q: What is a Credit Union?
A: Credit Unions are small, non-profit organisations set up by members to benefit the communities they serve. They primarily provide low cost borrowing and savings and can help people who can’t get access to ordinary bank products; a lifeline in less well-off communities or people who may be struggling with their finances. Plus, they are a much cheaper, more ethical and welcome alternative to payday loans or doorstep lending.
Q: Who can join a Credit Union?
A: To be part of a credit union you have to share a common bond with other members. This is something you all have in common such as:
- living or working in the same area
- working for the same employer
- belonging to the same church, trade union or other association.
Q: How can they help me?
A: Credit Unions have “Budget Accounts” which are ideal for bill management, managing debt or saving for specific items. So if you have trouble budgeting for important bills or for the things you want this package may be for you. It works by taking your money and dividing into agreed pots that you cannot accidentally spend before the bill is due. The Credit Union agrees with you how much needs to go into each pot and how to manage what is left over. You can decide to have the left over money transferred to one of their card accounts or to an external account either all at once or divided into weekly amounts. The choice is yours!
To find your local credit union, click here.
If you have any questions or concerns about your finances and what you might be entitled to, or you think you may struggle to pay your rent, please contact us as soon as possible.