Changes which could affect the amount of money you have coming in each week
Successive reforms to Welfare Benefits have been introduced in the past few years. These changes could significantly affect the amount of money you have coming in each week and may well reduce the amount of help with rent you get as well as how it is paid.
These changes could significantly affect the amount of money you have coming in each week and may well reduce the amount of housing benefit you get.
Universal Credit is a new type of benefit which is being gradually introduced across the country for working-age people. It replaces a number of current benefits. For more information visit our Universal Credit page.
The Benefit Cap is a cap on the total benefits a claimant can receive. It is set at £20,000 per year per family outside of London, equivalent to about £385 per week. For single people with no children the cap is £13,400 per year or about £258 per week.
How does it work?
The Benefit Cap works by adding up all of the money you receive from certain benefits (click here for a list).
However, if you, your partner or children who you get Child Benefit for are entitled to any of the following benefits, you should be exempt:
- Working Tax Credit
- Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payments
- Attendance Allowance
- Industrial Injuries benefits
- The Support component of Employment and Support Allowance
- War Widow’s or War Widower’s Pension
- Carer’s Allowance
- Guardian’s Allowance
If you’re not exempt and your total benefit income adds up to more than the cap, then your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit is reduced by the amount over the cap you are.
For example if your total benefit income is £415 per week, this is £30 over the £385 per week cap, so your Housing Benefit will be reduced by £30 per week. This means you will have to pay this towards your rent instead.
Am I affected?
Are you affected by the Cap and need help?
Then please call us on 0300 123 5544 to ask for our Benefit Advice Team or email us on email@example.com
We can check your benefit entitlements, help you to apply for any of the exempting benefits if they apply or otherwise discuss your options with you.
The 'Bedroom Tax'
If you are of working age and claiming Housing Benefit, or help with rent on Universal Credit, but have what the Government deems to be a ‘spare’ bedroom, your benefit may be reduced. Your Housing Benefit, or your Housing Element part of your Universal Credit, will be reduced by 14% for one spare bedroom, and 25% for two or more spare bedrooms.
The following people need their own bedroom:
- a couple
- a single person over the age of 16
- Two children under 16 of the same sex
- Two children under 10 regardless of their sex
- A child under 16 where there is no other child to share with them
- Someone who cannot share a bedroom due to a disability
- Someone who provides regular over-night care to an occupant
- An extra bedroom if you are a foster carer
Here are examples of circumstances under which the Government would consider you have a ‘spare’ bedroom. It is important to note this does not affect tenants of pension age:
- you and your partner live in a three bedroom house and have a boy aged eight and a girl aged three. The Government says that you only need a two bedroom house .
- you live by yourself or with a partner in a two bedroom flat
- you live by yourself or with a partner in a specially adapted two bedroom bungalow because you are disabled. The only exception to this is if you need a carer to stay overnight on a regular basis.
The Citizens Advice offers a simple Bedroom Calculator to help identify how many bedrooms your household is entitled to.
Please note the special circumstances which are not accounted for in the calculator.
Central Bedfordshire Council also has information on some of these changes.
A Credit Union account can help you to manage your household budget if you think you will struggle to manage monthly payments, including your rent.
We have links with Bedford Credit Union. For more information see our Credit Union page.