The Welfare Reform Act changed the way welfare benefits, including housing benefit, are paid.

The main customers affected are those:

  • of working age, receiving housing benefit and under-occupying their home
  • who receive housing benefit and have an adult who is not their partner living with them (non-dependant)
  • currently receiving means tested benefits and housing benefit which is paid direct to their landlord
  • receiving either Incapacity Benefit, Disability Living Allowance or contribution based Employment Support Allowance
  • receiving a large amount of benefits (Benefits Cap)
  • of working age that receive council tax benefit (Council Tax Support)

Non-Dependant Deductions

Non-dependant deductions are reductions in the housing benefit paid to the claimant due to them having an adult living with them who is not their partner. The amount of the deduction is set according to the non-dependants’ income. These deductions have been frozen since 2001, and they have started to increase from April 2011 to reach the level they would have been had they increased each year by 2014 (an increase of around 90%).

What you can do if you are paying a non dependant charge:

  • if the non dependant has moved out you need to let the housing benefit department know
  • check you are paying the correct amount – the charge is based on the non dependants income, if their income has reduced the amount you pay may reduce
  • if you get the care component of Disability Living Allowance then the charge is removed, you need to inform the housing benefit office if you are in receipt of this

Benefit Reassessment

Incapacity benefit

Customers who receive Incapacity Benefit are currently being reassessed for entitlement to Employment and Support Allowance. Some are failing the test and are either having their income reduced or being advised to claim Jobseekers Allowance.

Disability Living Allowance

From April 2013 claimants of Disability Living Allowance will be reassessed for a new benefit called Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
All new claims will be for PIP and current DLA claimants will be written to and invited to claim PIP. It is believed that if an application for PIP is not made then the DLA will just stop being paid.

If an application for PIP is made then an assessment process will be carried out to access eligibility.

Benefits Cap

The Government has imposed a cap on the total amount of ‘welfare’ a household can receive to the level of the median earnings after tax for working households. This is around £500 per week in total benefits for couple and lone parent households; and for single adults, no more than £350 per week.

Households will be exempt if they include a member who is receiving:

  • disability living allowance
  • attendance allowance
  • working tax credit
  • war widows’ / widowers’ pensions
  • support Component of Employment and Support Allowance

The Department of Work and Pensions is writing to affected customers.

What you can do

  • inform Housing Benefit if you are in receipt of one of the benefits above
  • contact our money advice team if you would like to check if you are eligible to one of the benefits above or need help preparing a budget
  • contact the employment and skills team for help moving into employment

Job Centre sanctions

Working Tax Credit rules for couples have changed from 16 hours to 24 hours or more a week.

Since 1 May 2012, anyone who was receiving contributory-Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) had their benefit stopped.

If an adult lives in your home who is not your partner and you receive housing benefit, you will have a deduction from the amount of housing benefit you receive.

Have you been sanctioned?

Benefits are linked, this means you get housing benefit and council tax benefit because you are on ESA or JSA, if that stops the Housing Benefit and council tax benefit can also stop. This means you will be liable for the full charge of both rent and council tax. Non payment of these will result in arrears.