The Welfare Reform Act became law on 8 March 2012. The Act contains some of the biggest changes to welfare benefits for over 60 years. This section provides you with all the information you need to know to understand how the changes may affect you.
The main changes include:
- Non Dependant Deductions
- Bedroom Tax
- Benefit Cap
- Universal Credit
- Direct payments of Benefits
Please note most changes do not affect people of pension age.
If you have a spare bedroom you are regarded as ‘under occupying’ the property and Housing Benefit will no longer pay for the additional room.
This means you will have to make up the shortfall from your own income.
Please click here to download Bedroom Size Criteria.
The Government has put a cap on the total amount of benefit that a single person or couple is entitled to. People of ‘working age’ will be subject to a benefit cap. This means that the amount of benefits they receive is limited to £500 per week for couples and single parent households. This is limited to £350 per week for single adults.
From October 2013, new claimants of working age will receive a single payment for all benefits, including Housing Benefit.
Another significant change is how Universal Credit is paid. Before, Housing Benefit could be paid either to the tenant or, in most cases, directly to the landlord. This has changed so that payments will be made directly to tenants.
Although there may be some exceptions for vulnerable people, it is essential all tenants have a way of paying their rent as soon as they receive their payment.
Help from SHA
To support you with this Sha is:
- Training our staff so that they can offer you advice
- Contacting people who will be affected directly so that we can offer advice and support
- Signposting people to agencies who will be able to help
- Visiting those who are affected by the benefit cap and bedroom tax to offer support
- Working with appropriate agencies to ensure you have access to the best possible support
- Encouraging payment of rent via Direct Debit
- Providing support to help people find work
Backdating of HB Payments
From April 2016 backdated Housing Benefit for working age claimants will reduce from six month to one month for new claims. If your circumstances change and you need to make a new claim for Housing Benefit it is important that you submit this as soon as possible, as any delays can result in you getting into rent arrears.
Limiting temporary absence
From May 2016 Housing Benefit payments will be limited to fours weeks for those who are away. Your Housing Benefit and Pension Credit payments will stop if you travel outside of the UK for longer than four weeks. It is very important that you inform us and Housing Benefit if you are going to be away from your property.
If you receive Carer's Allowance or the carer’s element of Universal Credit from Autumn 2016 your household will be exempt from the benefit cap.
The Money Advice Service