Benefit changes are coming!

Yarlington’s dedicated Financial Responsibility Team answer your questions ...

 

Q. I live on my own in a two bedroom flat. I need the extra bedroom for my children to stay at weekends. I currently get full Housing Benefit for my weekly rent of £96.00. Will I be affected by the bedroom tax?

A. Yes, you will be affected, and you will have to pay £13.44 per week in rent from the 1st April 2013. If you are seeking work and need help or assistance please contact Inspired to Achieve our partner organisation who can help you search for employment, education or volunteering opportunities. www.inspiredtoachieve.co.uk

Q. My wife and I live in a two bedroom bungalow which we rent for £102.00 per week. My wife is disabled and I am her carer. We need the extra bedroom as she sleeps badly, so I move into the spare room. Surely the bedroom tax will not affect us? We are both under pension age. We get partial Housing Benefit.

A. You will be affected because a couple count as needing only one room. You will have to pay an extra £14.28 per week in rent from 1st April 2013. If your bungalow has been specially adapted for your wife’s disability, you may be able to apply for a Discretionary Housing payment from SSDC. This could top up your Housing Benefit award , but awards are at the discretion of the local council and cannot be guaranteed. One of the Financial Responsibility Team can help you with an application and check you are receiving all the correct benefits, call us on 01935 404050.

Remember, once you reach pension age, the bedroom tax will not affect you.

Q. My wife and I have five children under 16. I am currently claiming job seekers allowance, so all of our £110.00 rent is paid via Housing Benefit. We are not under occupying our home. Will I continue to get all my rent paid after April?

A. No, you will be affected by the benefit cap. This restricts the amount of benefit a family can have to £500.00 per week. The benefit cap started in  July 2013. If you add together the Housing Benefit, Job Seekers Allowance, Child Tax Credits and Child Benefit I would expect a family of five to currently receive £564.00. This benefit will now be capped at £500.00. The £64.00 will be deducted from your Housing Benefit. Therefore, you will have to pay rent of £64.00 per week when the benefit cap starts in our area.

If you are able to find work, and work enough hours so that you qualify for working tax credits, you won’t be affected by the benefit cap. Please contact the Communities Team on 01935 404096 for help to find work.

You may also be protected if someone in your household receives Disability Living Allowance.

Q. I have heard that the government are stopping Housing Benefit. Is this true?

A. There are plans to combine a lot of benefits, including Housing Benefit, into a new benefit called Universal Credit for working age people only. This will probably start in 2015 in our area and will be a gradual move which will take a number of years to complete.

The main change for you will be that universal credit will be paid monthly. The housing costs part of the universal credit will be paid directly to you instead of your landlord. This means that the responsibility for ensuring your weekly rent is paid will be up to you.