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Benefit Changes

Welfare Reform

Welfare Reform encompasses a wide range of changes to both in-work and out of work claimants. This page will guide you through the changes with links to external sites to enable you to work out your eligibility.

The benefits calculator will help you to find out what benefits you are entitled to.

A full list of benefits are available on the Government Website

Our Tenancy Advice Officers are available to help you through changes you and your family may be experiencing. Email the tenancy advice officers for help.

You can also contact Citizens Advice or Turn2Us for benefit advice.

Housing and Council Tax Benefits

Housing and Council Tax Benefits

Housing and Council Tax Benefit is payable to tenants who meet the eligibility criteria and are claiming Job-Seekers Allowance, Employment Support Allowance, Income Support etc.

If you are claiming Universal Credit, please click here for Shropshire or click here for Herefordshire.

Housing Benefit

This benefit is paid by the local authority to help meet the cost of housing for tenants living in social housing. You can claim housing benefit if you are unemployed or on a low income. 

Non-Dependent Reductions

These result in a reduction of the amount of housing benefit paid to a household. This will occur where there is an adult living in the home who is not the tenant's partner (a non dependent). The amount that the housing benefit is reduced by will vary according to the non dependent's income. 

For more information go to the Shropshire Council or Herefordshire Council websites

Council Tax Benefit

You may have to pay different amounts of council tax in different council areas, even when the income of claimants are the same. 

For more information, please see the Shropshire Council or Herefordshire Council websites. 

Council Tax Debt

We work with Shropshire Council's debt recovery team to try and ensure that individual circumstances are taken in to account. Where appropriate the council may temporarily suspend further action, including temporarily suspending bailiffs, to allow our tenancy advice officers time to work with tenants and arrange realistic repayment plans for all debts. 

Bedroom Tax

Bedroom Tax

Since April 2013 the Government reduced the amount of housing benefit paid to people of working age who have ‘spare’ bedrooms in their homes.  The criteria means that any working age household deemed to be under occupying will lose a percentage of their housing benefit.

Your housing benefit will reduce by 14% for one room and 25% for two or more bedrooms.

The Government has said that the following people need their own bedroom:

  • A couple
  • A single person over the age of 16
  • Siblings of different genders over the age of 10, but siblings of the same gender are expected to share.

For more information go to the government’s website

This does not affect tenants of pension age living in sheltered housing.

However, if a pensioner lives in any other type of housing, they will be affected.

What can you do?

To avoid the 'bedroom tax' you can:

  • Move home by applying to Shropshire HomePoint or Herefordshire Homepoint, or
  • Taking part in a mutual exchange by registering on Shropshire Homepoint, or on the dedicated Facebook group 'Mutual Exchange Shropshire' 
  • Take in a lodger to help pay for the shortfall in rent

Different rules between Housing Benefit and Universal Credit

Bedroom Tax

  Housing Benefit Universal Credit
Mixed aged couples
i.e. one under Pension Credit age, or one of Pension Credit age
Not affected by the Bedroom Tax as goes by oldest member of the couple.

If on Pension Credit - not affected.

If not on Pension Credit, then mixed aged couple will need to claim Universal Credit and therefore will be affected until he younger member reaches Pension Credit age - ie looks at younger member of the couple.

Non-dependants

Allocated a bedroom. 

Non-dependant couples allocated one bedroom. 

Temporary absence rules (ie 13 / 52 weeks) apply for non-dependants in deciding whether or not to allocate them a bedroom whilst away - special rules for non-dependant adult children in Armed Forces whilst away from home on operations. 

Allocated a bedroom per non-dependant.

Couples will be allocated a bedroom each ie two bedrooms.

Temporary absence rules under Universal Credit are a flat rate of 6 months, except those going abroad (generally one month) away - same special rules for non-dependant adult children in Armed Forces whilst away from home on operations. 

Lodgers/Boarders

Allocated a bedroom.

(Payments made by lodgers / boarders can affect benefits).

Not allocated a bedroom. 

(Payments made by lodgers / boarders disregarded in full for Universal Credit).

Joint tenancies
(not couples)

Eligible rent reduced by penalty if required. Not affected by the Bedroom Tax.
Protection on death of household member For up to 52 weeks.

None in under-occupation rules but...

3 month 'run-on' - deceased is included in maximum Universal Credit assessment for the monthly assessment period in which they died and two following two monthly assessment periods.

Protection for those who could afford rent when agreement entered into and not made a claim for Housing Benefit for at least 52 weeks. for 13 weeks. None.

 

Personal Independence Payment - PIP

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

PIP has replaced Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for people aged 16-64 who have a long term disability/condition affects their ability to carry out a range of everyday activities and impacts on their ability to live independently.

The payment is based on an assessment of the individual, with a consideration to how the impairment affects the life of the individual and their ability to carry out a range of everyday activities.

This replaces the previous system of awarding financial assistance just because of impairment.

Children under the age of 16 who meet the qualifying criteria will still claim Disability Living Allowance

Adults aged 65+ who meet the qualifying criteria will now claim Attendance Allowance.

Benefit Capping

Benefit Capping

Benefit capping means there is a limit on the total amount of benefit that most people aged 16 to 64 can get. 

What is the limit of the cap?

  • £384.62 a week for couples (with or without children living with them)
  • £384.62 a week for single parents whose children live with them
  • £257.69 a week for single adults who don't have children, or whose children don't live with them

Who won't it affect?

You are exempt from the cap if you:

  • get Working Tax Credit
  • get Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment
  • have reached the age for getting Pension Credit (although you may not be exempt if you are a couple where one is above this age, and the other is below this age)
  • get Guardians Allowance
  • get Carer's Allowance
  • Universal Credit claimants who recieve payments towards carer's costs

You can find a complete list of exemptions here

How much might you lose?

This depends on your circumstances. You can use a benefits calculator to work this out. Click here for a benefits calculator

How can you escape the impact?

If you work enough hours to claim Working Tax Credit then the cap won't apply to you, even if you don't get it because your income is too high.

Check if anyone in your household gets one of the benefits that mean the cap won't apply to you, or that some of your benefits won't be counted.

Also consider whether your circumstances are likely to change soon. For example, do you have a child that will soon be treated as financially independent from you? When this happens, your benefits may bring you under the limit of the cap. if you are expecting a baby, your benefits might go up, which means you may go over the limit of the cap.

The following benefits are included when working out whether your total benefit income is more than the cap:

  • Bereavement Allowance
  • Child Benefit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Employment and Support Allowance (unless you get the support component)
  • Housing Benefit
  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Maternity Allowance
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Widowed Parent's Allowance
  • Widowed Mother's Allowance
  • Widow's Pension

The following benefits will NOT be included when working out your total benefit payment

  • Bereavement Payment
  • Discretionary Housing Payment
  • Help with Council Tax (for example from your local council’s support scheme)
  • Pension Credit
  • Residency order payments
  • Social Fund payments (for example Budgeting Loans, Cold Weather Payments, Funeral Payments)
  • Short Term Advances while you wait for your first benefit payment
  • State Retirement Pension
  • Winter Fuel Payment
  • one-off payments made by your local authority to help you out in a crisis
  • non-cash benefits, for example, free school meals
  • Statutory Pay (for example Sick Pay, Maternity Pay, Paternity Pay or Adoption Pay)

If you want to see if the benefit capping will affect you go to the Benefit Cap Information website

Universal Credit

Universal Credit

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a new benefit that is affecting working age tenants. It is a single system for claiming benefits for people either out of work or in work and on low wages. Unlike the old system of signing off one benefit and on to another, including housing benefit, tenants will stay on Universal Credit and the payment is changed, taking any earned income into account.

One payment

Any money that you would have previously claimed through housing benefit will be paid directly to you as part of your Universal Credit payment, and you will then have to make arrangements to pay your rent to your landlord.

In Shropshire,  currently only single people with no dependent children and no sickness or disability, would be considered for Universal Credit. As of May 2018 all new, or any claims submitting a change of circumstances will be transferred to Universal Credit. Eventually all existing claims will be transferred.  

Universal Credit is replacing the following benefits:

  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Housing Benefit 
  • Tax Credits (both working and child tax credits)

Please note that if you think you will still get help with council tax, that you will need to make a claim to the local authority separately. Council Tax Benefit will not be assessed as part of your Universal Credit Claim. 

How to apply for Universal Credit

You can only apply online for Universal Credit. If you do not have access at home, please click here to see information on where you can get free access to computers and help with making a claim.

It should take around 30-40 minutes to complete the claim, but if you leave the application for a period of 20 minutes, the session will 'time out' and close. There is no ability to save your claim and return later. If the session closes, you will have to start again. 

To make the claim run smoothly please ensure you have the following information before you start:

  • Post code
  • National Insurance Number
  • Details of the bank, building society or post office account where you will want the Universal Credit paid into
  • Rent agreement (if you have one)
  • Current rent statement

If you have recently lost your job, ensure you have all details of any wages that you may receive during the first month of your Universal Credit claim. This may include any final wage, holiday pay or compensation for loss of employment etc. If you receive this money during your calendar month assessment, it will be counted as earnings for the month it was received, rather than the month it was paid for. Please contact the Tenancy Advice Officers for more guidance.

  • Details of any savings or other capital you may have, this includes any redundancy money.
  • Details of any income that is not employment earned, for example money form an insurance plan.
  • Details of any other benefits you are in receipt of

It is important to note that once you make your claim, you will not have a payment of any kind for 6 weeks.

Additional 'waiting days'

if you lose employment and go on to Universal Credit, there is a period of 7 days after you submit the claim known as waiting days. During these 7 days you will have no entitlement to Universal Credit. However, it is still important that you submit your claim, as the waiting days only start after you have submitted the claim. You will still have to pay your rent, council tax and other bills during this time, but you will get no help with these payments. Waiting days do not apply if you are moving from one benefit (such as Job Seekers Allowance) to Universal Credit.

Claim date + waiting days + 1 calendar month +7 days = payment into your bank account

As you can see, you will be waiting 6 weeks or more before you get a payment.

Changes in circumstances

Report any changes to the Universal Credit helpline on 0345 600 0723

Changes include:

  • changes in household members
  • any form of employment no matter how few hours this is
  • sickness and too ill to look for work
  • moving house

What can you do to get ready?

Get ahead with your rent, by at least a week, but a month is preferable, as you may not get a payment of Universal Credit for 6 weeks.

If you lose your job, don't wait. Get a claim in straight away

Speak to the Tenancy Advice Officers at South Shropshire Housing Association and Meres and Mosses Housing Association before making a claim

If you are out of work and seeking employment we have many ways we can help.