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Changes in 2017

Removal of the Employment and Support Allowance - work related activity component

For Employment and Support Allowance claims made on or after 3 April 2017, new awards will not include the work related activity component.

  • The work related activity component will no longer be used as part of the Housing Benefit applicable amount
  • If you already receive the work related activity component, it will continue to be used in your Housing Benefit applicable amount

Two child limit

  • From 6 April 2017, Child Tax Credit (CTC) is limited to two children where a new child is born or joins a household on or after this date
  • If you already receive CTC for more than two children born before 6 April 2017, this will continue to be paid

There are exceptions to the two child limit and the decision and on whether a third or subsequent child should be included in the tax credit award rests with Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs.

The two child limit will also apply to the Housing Benefit rules in the following scenarios:

  • New claims made on or after 6 April 2017
  • Where a new child/youth joins an existing claim on or after that date

The rules limit the number of personal allowances paid for a child or youth to two per claim.

All children and youths in the household will still be taken into account when awarding premiums and deciding the bedroom requirement.

The changes apply to:

  • Housing Benefit claims for the working age and pensioners made on or after 6 April 2017

Housing Benefit will follow any decision made by Tax Credits e.g. if three or more children are taken into account in the CTC assessment, then regardless of when an HB claim is made, the same number of dependant allowances will be used in the HB calculation.

To ensure we are using the correct personal allowance we may need to see your Tax Credit award letter.

These changes do not apply to claims for council tax reduction.

Under Occupation charge

From 1 April 2017 following a Supreme Court judgment handed down on 9 November 2016 in relation to the judicial review challenges brought against the Removal of the Spare Room Subsidy (RSRS) policy, the regulations have been amended to allow an extra bedroom for Housing Benefit (HB) claimants:

  • when a disabled child or disabled non-dependant adult reasonably requires, and has, overnight care from a non-resident carer (or group of carers) and is in receipt of a specified disability benefit; and
  • in respect of a disabled couple, when a LA is satisfied that a couple cannot reasonably share a bedroom as a result of a member of the couple’s disability and that member is in receipt of a specified disability benefit.

These regulations apply in both the private rented sector (PRS) and social rented sector (SRS) and came into force on 1 April 2017.

Changes in 2016

Benefit Limits or Cap

From 7 November 2016 the Government is lowering the limit on the amount of benefit that working age people can get. This is called the benefit cap. The aim of the benefit cap is to stop people getting more in benefit payments than the average wage (after tax and National Insurance).  

The cap is being lowered from £26,000 per year (£500 per week) to £20,000 per year (approximately £385 per week).

The benefit cap will only apply to working age people. If you or your partner, if you have one, are over state pension credit age you will not be subject to the benefit cap provided that neither person continues to receive an out of work benefit, working age benefit. You can use the online calculator on the Government's website to check when you reach 'pension age'.

The cap won’t apply if you or your partner qualify for Working Tax Credit, or if you get any of the following benefits:

  • Attendance Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payments (PIP)
  • Disability Living Allowance (replaced by PIP from April 2013)
  • Employment and Support Allowance (if it includes the support component)
  • Industrial Injuries Benefits
  • War Widow’s or War Widower’s Pension
  • Carer’s Allowance (new from 7 November 2016)
  • Guardian’s Allowance (new from 7 November 2016)

The cap will be applied to the household's housing benefit until the claim transfers to Universal Credit (see Universal Credit – for information).

Abolition of the Family Premium

From 1 May 2016 the Family Premium will no longer be used in the calculation for HB entitlement.

This change will affect new claims that are made on or after 1 May 2016 for those who are working age and pensionable age.

The Family Premium is awarded as part of your Applicable Amount (amount the Government sets for you to live on and used by us to compare against your income). It is awarded if you have least one child or young person in your household

If you are already receiving the Family Premium as part of your calculation this will continue until:

There is no longer a child or young person in the household

There is a break in entitlement that results in a new claim having to be made

If the Family Premium stops because the child or young person in your house moves out it cannot be reinstated, even if another child or young person moves in with you.

Change to the housing benefit backdating rules

From 1 April 2016 the length of time we can backdate a claim for a working age person will change from six months to one month.

This means that if you are a working age person and there is a delay in submitting your claim we can only go back and pay you from an earlier date for up to one month (HB).

This change will apply to all backdate request that are made on or after 1 April 2016, even if the claim was made before that date.

If you are of pensionable age, the change will not affect you. We will still be able to consider awarding an earlier period of benefit for up to three months using the ‘take on rules’.

All of the other backdating rules are the same, if as a working age person you are late submitting a claim you will need to provide us with good cause for the delay.

Do not delay in submitting your benefit claim; doing so may mean you miss out on benefit you are entitled to.

Changes in 2013

Changes from summer 2013 onwards

Benefit Limits or Cap

From April 2013 the Government set a limit on the amount of benefit that working age people can get. This is called the benefit cap. The aim of the benefit cap is to stop people getting more in benefit payments than the average wage (after tax and National Insurance).  

The cap did not affect Rushcliffe residents until 15 July 2013.

The benefit cap will only apply to working age people.  If you or your partner, if you have one, are over state pension credit age you will not be subject to the benefit cap provided that neither person continues to receive an out of work benefit, working age benefit. You can use the online calculator on the Government's website to check when you reach 'pension age'.

The cap won’t apply if you, or your partner, qualify for Working Tax Credit, or if you get any of the following benefits:

  • Attendance Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payments (PIP)
  • Disability Living Allowance (replaced by PIP from April 2013)
  • Employment and Support Allowance (if it includes the support component)
  • Industrial Injuries Benefits
  • War Widow’s or War Widower’s Pension

The cap will be applied to the household's housing benefit until the claim transfers to Universal Credit (see Universal Credit for information).

Universal Credit (October 2013 to 2017)

Universal Credit will be the main working-age benefit to be phased in by the Department for Work and Pensions from October 2013 onwards. This went live in Rushcliffe on 15 February 2016. It will combine the current means-tested support for adults of working age and children into one benefit. All current means-tested benefits and Tax Credits will be stopped including Housing Benefit. Universal Credit will replace the following benefits:-

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
  • Income-related Employment & Support Allowance
  • Housing Benefit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit.

You can get more information on the Department for Work and Pension website at http://www.dwp.gov.uk/universal-credit

Changes from April 2013

The way housing benefit is calculated for people renting social housing changed from April 2013. This was a major change to housing benefit and one which brings the private and social rented sectors in line for the working age.

What changed?

Prior to April 2013 for housing benefit claimants who rented social housing, there was no restriction on the size of the property housing benefit would pay for. If someone was entitled to full housing benefit, then it would cover their full rent, irrespective of the size of the household.

This is not the case for housing benefit in the private rented sector, where the size of the property housing benefit will pay for is restricted depending on the size of the household.

This difference will now be addressed by the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) size criteria rules.

From April 2013 working-age social housing tenants are subject to the same restrictions on the size of the property housing benefit will pay for as those renting in the private sector. Housing benefit will only pay for the accommodation appropriate to the size of the household.

The LHA size criteria rules, which we will use to establish the level of under occupancy, if any, will allow one bedroom for each of the following:

  • a couple (married or unmarried)
  • a person who is not a child (aged 16 and over)
  • two children of the same sex
  • two children who are under 10
  • any other child (other than a foster child or a child whose main home is elsewhere)
  • a carer (or group of carers) providing overnight care
  • if you or your partner is caring for a foster child or have been accepted as a foster carer but have no child living with you an additional bedroom will be allowed as long as the period without a child does not exceed 52 weeks
  • adult children who are in the armed forces and continue to live with their parents will be treated as continuing to live at home even when they are deployed on operations.

Overnight care

  • If you require overnight care from a carer (or team of carers) who do not live with but provide you or your partner with overnight care you need to complete an Overnight Care - extra bedroom form.

Disabled children

  • If you have a child who you consider cannot share a bedroom because of a disability or medical condition you may be entitled to an extra room. The child in question must have been assessed and entitled to the DLA care component at the highest or middle rates. You will need to complete a Disabled Child - extra bedroom form and provide medical evidence to support your claim.

How will it work?

New claimants of housing benefit will only be entitled to the level of housing benefit to cover accommodation appropriate for their household and will need to take this into account if they are looking to move.

If you already receive housing benefit, your claim will be reassessed to determine if you are under-occupying your property according to the size criteria rules. If you are, a percentage reduction will be applied to your eligible rent and service charges of:

  • 14% for under occupation by one bedroom
  • 25% for under-occupation by two or more bedrooms.

Who will this affect?

This will apply to working age claimants. If you or your partner, (if you have one), are over state pension credit age you will not be subject to size criteria restrictions. You can use the online calculator on the Government's website to check when you reach 'pension age'. The Government felt that working age claimants would be in a better position to change their accommodation or make up the shortfall in rent arising from the introduction of this measure.

There are very few exceptions to this measure. Other than people of pension credit age, those not affected are shared ownership cases, non-mainstream accommodation (such as mooring charges and site charges), temporary accommodation for homeless people placed by the council and certain supported ‘exempt’ accommodation.

There may be circumstances where a claimant does not have the option to downsize, or where it may not be appropriate. In these circumstances there is the Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) fund. Nationally extra money was added to this fund, specifically aimed at helping people with a disability who live in significantly adapted accommodation. It is up to the council to administer the DHP fund based on individual circumstances. You need to complete the Discretionary Housing Payment (Extra bedroom - disabled adaption) application form and provide any evidence of the works undertaken.

When is the measure being introduced and who will it affect?

The measure was introduced on 1 April 2013, and affects all new and existing working age claimants renting in the social sector and who are under-occupying.

What will under-occupying tenants do?

Nationally the average weekly reduction in housing benefit per claimant is £14. The Government has said that there are a number of things you might do to address this shortfall. You may choose to make up the rent using savings, ask non-dependants to contribute more to the rent or take in a lodger. You may need your landlord's permission to take in a boarder or lodger. Having a lodger or boarder may also have an effect on your housing benefit or other benefits you receive, so get advice before making this decision.

You may also choose to move to smaller accommodation either in the social or private sector. This will depend on what is available and you should contact your landlord for advice

You may apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment if the change will cause you hardship and your circumstances mean it's difficult for you to move. However, this is only likely to provide a short term solution unless you fall into one of the groups identified for the additional DHP funding.

Changes from January 2013

The Government has announced that Local Housing Allowance (LHA) will only be reviewed once a year. The first review will take place in April 2013 so LHA will be uprated alongside other benefits. Therefore the Government has stopped reviews for any "anniversary dates" that fall between 1 January 2013 and 31 March 2013.

LHA claims were originally assessed based on the rates applicable at the time the claim was made. Unless a claimant had a change of circumstances, that rate was reassessed 12 months later – this is known as the "anniversary date".

From 1 January 2013, anniversary date reassessments will no longer take place. Anyone who was due to have a review between 1 January and 31 March 2013 will not be reviewed until 1 April 2013.

This is in line with the Government's plans to uprate LHA rates annually rather than monthly. It is designed to prevent claimants having two reassessments in a short space of time.

This  will make it simpler for claimants to understand and help people to plan for the future as they will know the amount of LHA available for the year ahead.

We will be writing to claimants who are affected - you do not need to do anything, as any changes will be made automatically.

If you think that a delay in reassessment will place you in serous financial difficulties, you can apply for assistance through the Discretionary Housing Payments scheme.

Changes from January 2012

Housing benefit is changing from 1 January 2012 for single people aged 25 to 34 who rent from a private landlord.

What has changed?

From January 2012, the Government is making changes to housing benefit, for tenants renting from a landlord in the private sector.

Will this affect me?

These changes will affect you if you:

  • rent accommodation from a private landlord
  • already get housing benefit, or are going to make a new claim
  • are single
  • do not normally have children living with you
  • are under 35 years old
  • live in a self contained property.

These changes will not affect you if you:

  • rent from a local authority or housing association.
  • are aged under 22 and have been in care
  • live in supported housing provided by a housing association, registered charity, voluntary organisation or a county council (in England).
  • get the severe disability premium in your benefit because you are entitled to the middle or higher rate care component of the Disability Living Allowance.
  • need an extra bedroom for a carer who provides you with the overnight care you need but who doesn’t normally live with you.
  • have spent at least three months in a
    • homeless hostel or
    • hostel specialising in rehabilitating and resettling within the community. To benefit from this exemption you need to have been offered and accepted support services to enable you to be rehabilitated or resettled in the community.
  • are managed under active multi-agency management under the Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements.

When will this affect me?

  • If you are already getting housing benefit based on Local Housing Allowance and your claim started before April 2011 you will have been told of the changes to the Local Housing Allowance rates from April 2011. You will also have been given nine months protection from these changes. You will not be affected by the change to the shared accommodation rate until the nine months has ended.
  • The nine months start from when your local authority carries out your first housing benefit yearly assessment after 1 April 2011. For example, if your yearly review was in June 2011 the change to the shared accommodation rate will not affect you until March 2012 (nine months later).
  • If you make a new claim for housing benefit before 1 January 2012, the change will affect you from your next yearly review. This will also happen if your housing benefit is not worked out using the Local Housing Allowance arrangements because you have been claiming housing benefit from before April 2008.
  • If you are making a new claim to housing benefit or moving home from 1 January 2011, the changes will affect you straightaway.

How will this affect me?

It is possible that the amount of housing benefityou get to pay your rent could go down. If your housing benefit is paid directly to your landlord, the amount your landlord gets could go down. If you are getting or thinking of claiming housing benefit, you need to consider these changes before you renew or make a new tenancy agreement with a private landlord.

When will my claim next be assessed?

You can work this out from the date you made your original claim for housing benefit, or from the date we last assessed your housing benefitamount.  For example, if you first made your claim for housing benefit on 5 March 2011 your yearly review date will be 5 March 2012.  

Housing benefit changes from April 2011

Housing benefit has changed from 1 April 2011 for people who rent from a private landlord.

What has changed?

From April 2011, the Government has made changes to housing benefit, for tenants renting from a landlord in the private sector. The changes will apply to customers who were receiving housing benefit before 1 April 2011.

If you started to receive Local Housing Allowance since 1 April 2011 your entitlement will have been calculated using the new rules outlined below.

Will this affect me?

Yes, if you are renting a property from a private landlord and receiving housing benefit and you made your claim for your current address on or after 7 April 2008.

When did it change?

From 1 April 2011, the maximum £15 weekly housing benefit excess that some people received ended for new claims.  This means you will not be able to get more money from housing benefit than the amount you pay in rent.

There are maximum rate caps, so that Local Housing Allowance weekly rates in any area cannot be more than:

  • £250 for a one bedroom property per week
  • £290 for a two bedroom property per week
  • £340 for a three bedroom property per week
  • £400 for a four bedroom property per week.

The five bedroom Local Housing Allowance rate has been removed. The maximum level is for a four bedroom property.

The Government has reduced Local Housing Allowance rates to a lower amount, so that about 3 in 10 properties for rent in your area should be affordable to people on housing benefit. Prior to April 2011, 5 in 10 properties in your area were affordable to people on housing benefit.  

From April 2011, a bedroom that is used by a carer (or team of carers) who doesn’t actually live in your home can be taken into account when working out how much housing benefit to pay. If you think you might be entitled to help with the cost of an extra bedroom that is used by a carer, please contact us on 0115 981 9911 or visit us at Rushcliffe Community Contact Centre on Rectory Road, West Bridgford, Nottingham, NG2 6BN to speak to an advisor.

How will this affect me?

It is possible that the amount of housing benefit you get to pay your rent could go down. If your housing benefit is paid directly to your landlord, the amount your landlord gets could go down. If you are getting or thinking of claiming housing benefit, you need to consider these changes before you renew or make a new tenancy agreement with a private landlord.

When will this affect me?

  • If you are making a new claim to housing benefit or moving home, the changes will affect you straightaway.
  • If you receive an excess (up to a maximum of £15 per week) it will continue until your Local Housing Allowance rate is reviewed.
  • If you have been claiming housing benefit continuously and your claim started before April 2011, you will normally have more time before your rate changes. If your circumstances don’t change, you will have nine months based on your current rate after your local authority next assesses your housing benefit on or after 1 April 2011
  • For instance if your next assessment is due in December 2011 the changes will not affect you until September 2012.  But you cannot get more money in housing benefit than you pay in rent after we assess your claim. 
  • The changes may affect you sooner if:
    • You are getting housing benefit and move home.
    • Your household changes, such as someone leaves or comes to live with you.

When will my claim next be assessed?

You can work this out from the date you made your original claim for housing benefit, or from the date we last assessed your housing benefit amount. For example, if you first made your claim for housing benefit on 5 March 2011 your yearly review date will be 5 March 2012.  


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