Housing Benefit Reform

Money

The Welfare Reform Act 2012 contained some major changes to the Housing Benefits system and the introduction of Universal Credit. The Government plans to reduce the Welfare Benefits expenditure further and details of changes will be posted on this page with relevant links.

Housing Benefit Reform

This page gives you information about the changes and the effect if you are currently in receipt of Housing Benefit or if you claim Housing Benefit or other out of work benefits in the future.

Spare bedroom subsidy also known as the "spare bedroom rule" or "bedroom tax"

This is an under-occupancy rule affecting Housing Benefit for tenants of A1 Housing and Registered Social landlords (effective from April 2013)

If your household is entitled to Housing Benefit towards the rent and there is one or more "spare" bedrooms for the household, due to under-occupancy, then the Housing Benefit payment will be based on a figure less than the full weekly rent charged. These reductions are 14% for 1 spare bedroom and 25% for two or more spare rooms.  This means if you under-occupy your home by 1 bedroom, the Housing Benefit is worked out on 86% of your weekly eligible rent and if you under-occupy by 2 or more rooms this would be based on 75% of your net weekly eligible rent.

The number of bedrooms each household "needs" is determined by the Government and has been set as one room for each of the following:-

  • each adult couple
  • any other person aged 16 or over
  • two children of the same sex, under 16
  • two children under 10, regardless of their sex
  • any other child
  • a carer (who does not normally live in the property) if you or your partner need overnight care

Pensioner households will not be affected by this change.

You will have to make up the difference in your rent. If you are worried about affording your rent please contact your landlord who will be able to offer advice and support or discuss other options with you such as downsizing to a smaller property.

The Benefits Cap

The Government has said that no out-of-work family will receive more in benefits than a family on average earnings. This means that a "Cap" will be set on the total amount of Benefits a family can receive, at £500 a week for a couple and £350 a week for a single person.

People getting Working Tax Credits, War pensions and Disability Living Allowance will be exempt from the benefit cap.

The cap (or deduction of the difference) will be applied to the household's Housing Benefit until the claim transfers to Universal Credit.  If you are concerned about whether you will be affected please contact the helpline on 0845 605 7064.

Universal Credit

Universal Credit will be the main working-age benefit to be phased in by the Department for Work and Pensions from February 2015 onwards. It will combine the current means-tested support for adults of working age into one benefit. All current means-tested benefits and Tax Credits will eventually be phased out, including Housing Benefit for working-age residents.

Universal Credit will replace the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
  • Income-related Employment & Support Allowance
  • Housing Benefit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit

Universal Credit will be implemented in phases starting in February 2015 for the Bassetlaw area.  Not all Council areas will be in phase 1 of the roll-out and the Jobcentre will advise you whether you will be entitled to Universal Credit and when from.

The Department of Work and Pensions have lots of advice on its website about Universal Credit.  View the budgeting guide to see information about how to plan for the change and how to budget your income and outgoings on Universal Credit.

The DWP hope to have all Housing Benefit claimants transferred to Universal Credit by 2019. As the Council receives more information about Universal Credit we will update these pages. You may also get more information on the Department for Work and Pensions website.

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