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Welfare Reform

The Government has changed the benefits system. 

In April 2013 the following changes were introduced:

  • Universal Credit
  • Abolition of Council Tax Benefit and introduction of Council Tax Reduction Scheme
  • Social Sector Size Criteria
  • Benefit Cap
  • Personal Independence Payments

In April 2018, the government introduced Social Sector Rent Changes.

Where to go for information

  • The Citizens Advice service provides a wide range of advice. To find your local Citizens Advice look in the phone book or Yellow Pages, or visit their website at www.citizensadvice.org.uk
  • Shelter offers confidential housing, welfare benefits and debt advice through a network of advice services; freephone Housing Advice Helpline on 0808 800 4444 8am-8pm Monday to Friday and 8am-5pm Saturday-Sunday and online at www.shelter.org.uk
  • Information about Housing Benefit can be found at www.direct.gov.uk

A limit will be put on the total amount of benefit that most people aged 16 to 64 can get.  This is called a "benefit cap".

If you're affected, your Housing Benefit will go down to make sure that the total amount of benefit you get isn't more than the cap level.  The cap will be set at £384.62 per week for couples and lone parents, and £257.69 per week for single adults.

If you’re already getting benefits and could be affected by the cap you’ll be contacted by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). They’ll let you know what will happen to your benefits.

Households that aren't affected by the cap    

The cap won’t apply to households where a partner or any dependant child qualify for Working Tax Credit or receive any of the following:

  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Industrial Injuries Benefits
  • Employment Support Allowance, if paid with the support component
  • Armed Forces Compensation Scheme payments
  • War Pension Scheme payments (including War Widow’s/Widower’s Pension and War disablement Pension).

Personal Independence Payments have now replaced Disability Living Allowance (DLA).  This benefit is for working age people aged between 16 and 64.

There are no plans to replace DLA with Personal Independence Payments for children aged under 16, or those aged over 65 who are already receiving DLA.

You can find more information about Personal Independence Payments.

Social Sector size criteria affecting Housing Benefit for those who rent from a Registered Provider

Rules have been introduced to restrict the size of accommodation you can receive Housing Benefit for based on the number of people in your household.

The rules allow one bedroom for:

  • every adult couple (married or unmarried)
  • any other adult aged 16 or over
  • any two children of the same sex aged under 16
  • any two children aged under 10
  • any other child, (other than a foster child or child whose main home is elsewhere)
  • a carer (or team of carers) who do not live with you but provide you or your partner with overnight care

How will you be affected?

If you are assessed under these rules as having more bedrooms than you need for the number of people in your household you will be considered to be under-occupying that property.

If you are under-occupying there will be a reduction in your Housing Benefit. The amount of Housing Benefit allowed for rent and any eligible service charges will be reduced by:

  • 14% for under-occupancy by 1 bedroom
  • 25% for under-occupancy by 2 bedrooms or more

If you are thinking of moving you will need to consider these rules before renewing or making a new tenancy agreement.