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Welfare Reform

This page gives you information about changes introduced as part of the Government’s Welfare Reform Act. The page contain links to other useful information about the changes.

Spare room subsidy (sometimes known as ‘The Bedroom Tax’)

From 1st April 2013 there were changes to the amount of Housing Benefit paid to working age Council or Housing Association tenants, living in a home larger than they need.

Since 1st April 2013 you can only claim Housing Benefit for the number of bedrooms that the Government says that you need for your household. If you have one or more bedrooms than you need the amount of your rent that counts for benefit is reduced by 14 per cent when your Housing Benefit is worked out. If you have two or more bedrooms than you need the amount of your rent that counts for benefit is reduced by 25 per cent. This means that you will be expected to pay any shortfall between your rent charged and the benefit paid.

The rules allow one bedroom for:

  • Each couple or single parent
  • Any other person aged 16 or over
  • Two children of the same sex aged under 16
  • Two children aged under 10 regardless of their sex
  • Any other child (other than a foster child or a child whose main home is elsewhere)
  • A carer (or team of carers) who do not live with you but who provide you or your partner with regular overnight care

Rules about children

For someone to be treated as being responsible for a child, the child must normally be living with them. A child is normally treated as living with the person who is receiving Child Benefit for them. If you are not the person who receives Child Benefit for your children you will not be entitled to receive Housing Benefit for an extra room for them.

Rules about foster children

One extra bedroom can be allowed for approved foster carers who have a child placed with them, or who are between placements but only for a period of up to 52 consecutive weeks from the date of the last placement.

One extra bedroom can also be allowed for newly approved foster carers but only for a period of up to 52 consecutive weeks from the date of the approval, if no child is placed with you during this period.

If you require more than one additional room for foster children you can apply for additional support with housing costs through Discretionary Housing Payments.

Rules about disabled children

If you have a child with severe disabilities who is unable to share a bedroom we may be able to allow a separate bedroom for the disabled child. You will need to provide details supported by medical evidence of your child's disability. We may visit you at home to help you make your claim.

Rules about disability

We do not take account of any extra rooms required due to disability or for adaptations that have been carried out to make your home suitable for living with disability. However, you may be able to get help to meet any shortfall through Discretionary Housing Payments.

Rules about adult children in the Armed Forces

Adult children who are in the Armed Forces but who continue to live with parents will be treated as continuing to live at home, even when deployed on operations. This means that the size criteria rules will not be applied to the room normally occupied by the member of the Armed Forces if they intend to return home. In addition Housing Benefit recipients will not be subject to a non-dependant deduction (the amount that those who are working are expected to contribute to the household expenses) until an adult child returns home.

What can you do if you are affected by the spare room subsidy?

If you have been affected by the spare room subsidy, there are several options you could consider, for example:

  • Pay the difference yourself
  • Think about moving to a smaller property with the number of bedrooms for your family size. For more information about the Council's Choice Based Lettings Scheme click here
  • Take in a lodger in or another family member to use your extra bedroom

If you are considering taking in a lodger or another family member or friend into your home then remember that doing so could affect the amount of Housing Benefit you are entitled to. Also you should contact your landlord if you are thinking about taking in a lodger to check this is permitted under the terms of your tenancy.

The Benefit Cap

Since 1st April 2013 the Government has put a limit on the total amount of benefit that working age people can receive. This is so that no family out of work can be better of on welfare benefits than working families.

The Benefit Cap applies to the combined income from the main out of work benefits, plus child benefit and child tax credits. No non working households will be entitled to more in benefits than the average working household receives in wages. A single person will be restricted to £350 per week and a couple or lone parent to £500 per week. All pensioners and working age households in receipt of the following benefits will be exempt from the cap:

  • Working Tax Credit
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Employment Support Allowance support component
  • War widows or widowers pension

Where a household exceeds the cap, the amount of housing benefit received will be reduced until the cap level is reached. It is likely that larger families will be affected by this.

For further information about the Benefit Cap, please visit the GOV.UK website.

Local Housing Allowance rates

For the latest Local Housing Allowance rates, click here.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Since 8th April 2013 the Government introduced a new benefit called Personal Independence Payment to replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for eligible working age people.

Personal Independence Payment is based on an assessment of individual needs. The new assessment will focus on an individual’s ability to carry out a range of key activities necessary to everyday life. Information will be gathered from the individual, as well as healthcare and other professionals who work with and support them. Most people will also be asked to a face to face consultation with a trained independent assessor as part of the claim process.

For more information on Personal Independence Payment visit the GOV.UK website.

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a new single payment for people who are looking for work or on a low income. Universal Credit will help claimants and their families to become more independent and will simplify the benefit system by bringing together a range of working-age benefits into a single streamlined payment. Universal Credit will replace:

  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Child Tax Credits
  • Working Tax Credits
  • Housing Benefit

For more information on Universal Credit visit the GOV.UK website.

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