If you get any kind of state benefit, you will probably know that UK Government is making a number of changes to the system.
If you are living in a home which is bigger than you and your family need and you are under pensionable age, your housing benefit entitlement will be restricted. This is called the under-occupancy charge (more commonly known as ‘the bedroom tax’). If you cannot find a suitable place to move to, or you choose not to move, you will need to make up this shortfall in rent yourself.
There are some exemptions:
Severely disabled children will be allowed their own bedroom if they would seriously disrupt the sleep of another child if they were to share a bedroom.
Foster carers are to be allocated an extra bedroom, even between placements.
Adult children in the armed forces are to be deemed as living at home whilst away on operations.
Bedroom size – Whilst there are rules around what constitutes a bedroom for over occupation rules, this does NOT apply to the under-occupation charge.
If you are thinking of starting a family and want to stay in a larger home, you will have to pay the charge in the short term.>
So, what have we done?
Our Money Advice team has contacted all of you, who we believe could be affected by this change to help you identify what your options are and offered some advice to our residents. For some who cannot afford the rent with the reduction in housing benefit, we may be able to help apply for additional funding from the Discretionary Housing Payment which is administered by your local council. Please contact the Money Advice team if you need help on 01495 745910.
Universal Credit - What is it
Universal Credit is a single monthly payment for people in or out of work, which merges together some of the benefits and tax credits that you might be getting now. Universal Credit will replace: Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance. Income-related Employment and Support Allowance. If you want to know more about it click here. If you click here you can apply for UC.
The Benefit Cap is a limit on the total amount of certain benefits you can get if you are working age. The Benefit Cap will only affect you if you're getting Housing Benefit or Universal Credit. If the cap affects you, your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit is reduced. If you want to know more about the benefit cap then please click here. If you click here there is a really useful Benefit cap calculator.
How we can help
The Benefit Cap was introduced in April 2013 and it will be enforced by reducing your housing benefit by the amount you exceed the cap. The Benefit Cap is aimed to encourage those not working to look for work. If you would struggle with this reduction in income we can help. If you are able to work, contact our Employment Advice team, who can help improve your employability. For those who are too ill to work our Money Advice team can assist in applying for any appropriate disability benefits.
Disability Living Allowance
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is a benefit that helps with the extra costs you may face if you're disabled. DLA has been replaced by Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for all new claimants. Apply for PIP if you're under 65 and need help looking after yourself or have difficulty walking. If you want to know more about DLA please click here