Welfare Reform Changes


undefinedIn April 2013, the Government made major changes to the welfare benefits scheme.  There were several changes and the impact upon you will depend on your personal circumstances.

Below is a list of the changes that have been made:

Under Occupation – Spare bedroom (s)

From April 2013, Housing Benefit has been reduced for working age people living in council and Housing Association properties if they have spare bedrooms.

  • If ‘under occupying’ by 1 bedroom, the rent used to calculate your entitlement to housing benefit will be reduced by 14%.
  • If ‘under occupying’ by 2 or more bedrooms, the rent used to calculate your entitlement to housing benefit will be reduced by 25%

Personal Independence Payment

Please find a checklist of how to prepare for the introduction of the Personal Independence Payment HERE.

Hackney Council Social Fund

From April 2013, Hackney Council will introduce a new local assistance scheme to assist the most vulnerable.  This will replace parts of the Social Fund scheme currently run by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

  • Community Care Grants – payments for cooker, bed, etc., and
  • Crisis Loans – for general living expenses e.g money lost or stolen.

The council’s new scheme is not the same as the DWP scheme.  Download information about the new scheme HERE and HERE.

Discretionary Housing Payment

For those Housing Benefit recipients who do not have their rent met in full by Housing Benefit and have a temporary situation which makes it difficult to pay their rent, they can receive extra help in the form of a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHPs). Awards are designed to be temporary and short term and are made on a case by case basis dependent on individual circumstances.

DHPs are not a solution for ongoing/long term rental shortfalls between Housing Benefit and rent.

DHP’s can be made for a weekly or monthly benefit top up or as a lump sum to cover removal costs, deposits and rent in advance for tenants wishing to move Awards can also be made retrospectively.

Please find attached Hackney’s new:

Please find the link to the London Borough of Hackney’s DHP web page HERE.

Please note that Discretionary Housing Payments cannot cover shortfalls between Council Tax and Council Tax Reduction entitlement.

Benefit Cap

A limit has been put on the total amount of benefit that most working age people can get.  This is called the benefit cap and is due to be introduced between April and September 2013.

There are some exemptions when the cap will not apply.  All households which include someone who is receiving the following benefits will be exempt:

  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • The supported component of ESA
  • Attendance Allowance
  • War Widows or War Widower’s pension
  • Households receiving Working Tax Credit

If you are affected your Housing Benefit will go down and you may lose almost all of your Housing Benefit.

The level of the cap will be:

  • £500 a week for couples (with or without children living with them)
  • £500 a week for single parents whose children live with them
  • £350 a week for single adults who don’t have children, or whose children don’t live with them

If you’re already getting benefits and could be affected by the cap you’ll be contacted by the DWP.  They’ll elt you know what will happen to your benefits.  If your household is going to be affected you need to take action now.  If you are a Housing Association or Council tenant, you should let your landlord know immediately that there may be a problem.

Council Tax Benefit changes: 

Existing council tax benefit claimants were automatically moved onto the new scheme on 1 April 2013.  However, the amount of help they receive may have changed.

Working age people:

  • will have to pay at least 15% of their council tax regardless of their income
  • will no longer be eligible for second adult rebate
  • the amount of income individuals can have each week before it affects their entitlement (the applicable amount) will be frozen at 2012/13 levels.

This means that all working households will have to pay at least some of their council tax. For someone in a band D property in receipt of 100% entitlement this means a maximum payment of £3.76 a week.

Read more here: http://www.hackney.gov.uk/council-tax-reduction-scheme.htm

LIST OF INDEPENDENT LOCAL ADVICE AGENCIES WHO CAN HELP YOU: Please also find the names and contact details who may be able to help you HERE.