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Housing benefit changes - What's New?

This page gives an overview of all the changes that will affect customers claiming Housing Benefit. We will update this regularly.

Changes to Local Housing Allowance

Housing restrictions for Housing Association tenants

Benefit cap changes from Autumn 2016

Renewing your tenancy

Changes in your circumstance

Removal of 2nd Adult Rebate for Working Age from 1st April 2016

Restrictions to Council Tax Support for Working Age

Changes to Backdating rules from 1st April 2016

Removal of Family Premium from 1st May 2016

Temporary Absence from Home - New Rules for absences outside of GB from 28th July 2016

Changes to Local Housing Allowance (LHA)

The Government changed the rules regarding Local Housing Allowance (LHA). LHA is used to work out how much Housing Benefit customers are entitled to. Most of our private rented sector customers have been affected over the last few years by the changes to varying degrees.

January 2012 - Rent restrictions for single customers under the age of 35 who do not have children

From January 2012 customers had their Housing Benefit calculated using the shared accommodation rate for a single bedroom.

April 2012 - LHA rates frozen

The LHA rates were frozen for 1 year from 1st April 2012. From that date all new claims for Housing Benefit were calculated on that LHA rate and this rate applied until April 2013, when it was reviewed.

April 2014 - Change in LHA rates

From April 2013 LHA rates were set as the same for everybody in Private Rented Housing, there is no longer a yearly anniversary date where LHA rates change, instead all customers are subject to the same LHA rate. Also from April 2013, any changes in rent are treated as Change in Circumstances, and will take effect from the Monday following the date in which we are notified of the change.

April 2015 - Changes in LHA Rates

LHA rates were reviewed and updated from April 2015 for all customers.

April 2016 - Changes in LHA Rates

LHA rates for the 2015/16 year have been frozen for a further year and will remain the same in 2016/17.

 

Housing restrictions for Housing Association tenants

From 1st April 2013 we no longer pay for extra bedrooms that working age customers have been allocated by their landlords. The restriction does not apply where the claimant (and their partner if they have one) are pensioners.

The number of bedrooms working age customers are able to claim for will be the same as those for customers in private rented homes under rules made by central Government.

A bedroom calculator is available on the Direct Gov LHA website. Please use this to work out your room entitlement. Customers with extra bedrooms are affected as follows:

Example

Mr & Mrs H live in a registered social landlord property with their 2 children - a boy aged 4 and a girl aged 6. They have a 3 bedroom property and they are charged £100 per week in rent. Currently their Housing Benefit is worked out using the full rent of £100.

Under the new rules from April 2013, they will only be eligible for 2 bedrooms. This is because two children under the age of 10 are expected to share a bedroom. The amount of rent used to work out their Housing Benefit will therefore be reduced by 14%. The amount of rent used to work out their Housing Benefit will be reduced to £86 per week

To assist you managing any reduction you may see

The Government advises that you should:

Housing Benefit reform: Under Occupation facts

From 1 April 2013, working age tenants living in social housing and receiving housing benefit were affected by changes to their benefits. Housing benefit will provide support for the number of bedrooms that a household needs. This type of support was already in place for renters in the private sector claiming housing benefit and social renters are now be subject to the same size criteria. The changes were expected to affect 660,000 claimants.

Claimants can choose whether they want to pay the difference to their rent - on average £14 a week - or if they want to move to more appropriately sized accommodation.

The Government provided extra Discretionary Housing Payment funding to help people affected by these Housing Benefit reforms. This included an extra £25m funding for the under-occupancy measure to help disabled people who live in adapted properties to stay in their homes.

This reform will help to lead to better use of housing stock.

Extra support and exceptions

Pensioners

· The new rules only apply to working age claimants.

· People over the qualifying age for state pension credit or with a partner over that age are exempt.

· Current mixed aged couples will continue to be exempt.

Temporary accommodation

· Homeless people living in certain types of temporary accommodation made available under specified legislation are not affected.

Supported accommodation

· People who receive care, support or supervision from their landlord in supported exempt accommodation are not affected.

Parents of students

· If a student's main residency is their parents' home, then their bedroom will not be considered as spare.

Bereaved families

· Where under-occupancy arises due to a death we allow a year's grace so that bereaved families have some time to come to terms with their loss and are able to make the right decisions about their finances and size of accommodation.

Foster Carers

· Approved foster carers whether or not they have a child placed with them or are between placements are allowed an extra room, as long as they have fostered a child within the last 12 months or become a registered foster carer within the last 12 months.

Armed forces personnel

· Wives or husbands of those serving in the armed forces will be unaffected by these changes.

· Parents with adult children in the Armed Forces who continue to live with their parents will continue to be considered as living at home when applying the size criteria whilst away on operational duty.

Disabled People

· Discretionary Housing Payments will be specifically targeted at disabled people who live in significantly adapted properties.

· Councils have discretion over whether disabled children are eligible for their own bedrooms

Rooms for carers

· Bedrooms for live-in carers are not affected. A bedroom is also allowed for an overnight carer.

There is a 'Frequently Asked Questions' document at the bottom of this page. 

Personal Independence Allowance

As part of the reform of the welfare system, Disability Living Allowance (DLA) was replaced by Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for people aged 16 to 64 on or after 8 April 2013.

A brief outline of PIP - what is it?

PIP is to help towards the extra costs arising from the impact of a disability, health condition or impairment. It's based on how a person's condition(s) affect their ability to lead an independent life, not the condition(s) they have.

It's based on an assessment of individual need. The new assessment will focus on an individual's ability to carry out a range of key activities necessary to everyday life.

Claims will normally be made over the phone, although claimants will also be asked to complete a questionnaire providing information on how their disability affects them. Most people will then be asked to attend a face-to-face consultation with a health professional as part of the claim process. Claimants can take somebody with them to support them. This could include a social worker, friend or carer.

There are two components of PIP - one for daily living and one for mobility. Each can be paid at a standard or an enhanced rate, based on an assessment of their individual needs. Awards will also be reviewed more regularly to make sure the right level of support is offered.

Some things aren't changing. Like DLA, PIP will not be considered as income for the purpose of entitlement to current income-related benefits, or in future Universal Credit. PIP can be claimed whether someone is working or not, and it can still help people access other support, such as helping a carer qualify for Carer's Allowance.

Between October 2015 and 2018

All the remaining eligible claimants in receipt of a DLA award will be invited to make a claim for PIP. DWP plan to have contacted everyone by 2018. They will write to individuals in plenty of time to explain what to do. They don't need to contact DWP now.

The letter DWP sent to all existing claimants explains how they might be affected, but they know that some people may still have queries or need help to understand the potential impact on them.

DLA isn't changing for children or those aged 65 or over when PIP is introduced.

How you can help:

DWP have made a range of information available to claimants at www.gov.uk/pip so that you have clear information about how you might be affected.

There is an online check on the website (www.gov.uk/pip-checker) that uses your date of birth to work out how and when you might be affected.

Information Documents

There are various documents available at the bottom of this page for your to download:

  1. Claimant Journey
  2. Quick reference guide

Benefit cap changes from Autumn 2016

From 15th July 2013, the Government  introduced new rules where the total amount of benefits for working age claimants who are not working will be capped as follows:

From Autumn 2016 these amounts will be further reduced and will see more of our customers affected by the benefit cap. The new limits are

These amounts include the following incomes:

It does not include Council Tax Support, social fund payments, in work and return to work credits, one off payments, non-cash benefits (e.g. free prescriptions) and passported benefits such as free school meals or other disability related benefits such a Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payments.

If your total benefit is more than these maximum amounts, your Housing Benefit will be reduced to meet these new rules. There will be transitional protection for nine months for people who:

Preparing for the change

The Government advises that you should:

Action you can take

Whatever you do - do something!

If you are affected by these changes, you will have been contacted by the Department for Work and Pensions. Once you know you will be affected by the changes above you should take action. Some of the action you can take might include:

Calculate your potential changes online at www.directgov.uk/benefitcap

Renewing your tenancy

If your tenancy is due to be renewed, you and your landlord will need to consider the new rent charge and whether you will be able to afford it if your Housing Benefit goes down when your LHA rate is reviewed.

If your tenancy is due to be renewed before your LHA review date, you should:

Changes in your circumstance

The advice we have given above is based on your circumstances staying the same.

If these circumstances change you should:

Removal of 2nd Adult Rebate for working age from 1st April 2016

From 1st April we will no longer be awarding 2nd Adult Rebate for those cases where they are of working age, War pensioners and pensioners will continue to be protected from this change. We will be writing to all those currently in receipt of this rebate to make them aware that there will be an increase to their Council Tax from 1st April 2016.

Restrictions to Band D for Working Age from 1st April 2016

From 1st April 2016 the amount of Council Tax Support we award for those who are currently in a band E, F, G and H property has been restricted. From this date we will assess their entitlement as though they were in a Band D property. War pensioners and pensioners will continue to be protected from this change.

Changes to backdating rules from 1st April 2016

From 1st April 2016 Housing Benefit backdating has been reduced so that new claims from working age claimants will be backdated for a maximum of 1 Month. For Council Tax Support this has also been reduced to 1 month.

Removal of Family Premium from 1st May 2016

Unlike other reforms the Chancellor announced directly affecting child related payments, withdrawal of the family premium in Housing Benefit (£17.45 when a claimant has one or more dependent children) took effect from 1 May 2016, a year earlier than the reductions for children within Child Tax Credit. Removal of the family premium affects both new claims and new births from 1 May 2016 and has been mirrored in the Council Tax Support scheme for both working age and pensioners.

 

Changes to Temporary Absence outside of GB from 28th July 2016

From the 28th July 2016 there have been some changes to the rules regarding temporary absence from the home where the absence is outside of GB.  The regulations have been amended to introduce a distinction between Temporary absences from the main home within GB and outside GB for both working age and state pension credit age claims.

Claimants will need to report exactly where they are going, for what reason and for what period. Claimant occupation can affect the allowed length of absence and that the previous 52 week allowed absence period has been reduced to a maximum of just 4 weeks in many instances. The change in the legislation from "United Kingdom" means  Northern Ireland, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands are all absences outside Great Britain and thus a maximum allowed absence of 4 weeks will normally apply to these destinations (apart from where an exception applies).

There is also a new discretion to increase the 4 weeks to up to 8 weeks in limited and specified circumstances. DWP anticipate than around 100,000 HB claimants per year will be affected.

Existing provisions for temporary absence within GB are unchanged.

Contact us

Email: housing.benefits@boston.gov.uk
Telephone: 01205 314202

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Related documents

Size Name
[189kb] Under Occupation - Frequently Asked Questions Under Occupation FAQS
[68kb] Claimant Journey PIP
[42kb] Quick reference guide PIP
[454kb] Benefit Cap factsheet Information about the Benefit Cap

The documents in this section are in Adobe Acrobat format (pdf). You will need Acrobat Reader to view these files which can be downloaded from the Adobe website free of charge.