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The government has introduced a number of major changes to the Housing Benefit system.

Benefit Cap

The Welfare Reform and Work Act (2016) introduces some changes to the benefit cap from 7 November 2016 and include a reduction to the benefit cap levels to:

  • £384.62 per week (£20,000) a year for couples with or without children and lone parents and
  • £257.69 per week (£13,400 a year) for single people without children.

They also include additional exemptions for recipients of Guardian’s Allowance, Carer’s Allowance and Universal Credit claimants who receive payments towards carer’s costs. 

If you are affected by the benefit cap please contact us on 01395 517459 or email benefits@eastdevon.gov.uk

For more information about the benefit cap changes please visit www.Gov.UK/benefit-cap

Freeze on working age benefits

Working age benefits including tax credits will be frozen for 4 years from 2016. This does not include maternity pay, paternity pay and statutory sick pay. Disability Benefits will continue to be uprated using the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Freeze on Local Housing Allowance

Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is used to calculate your Housing Benefit if you are renting from a private landlord. The LHA rates will be frozen for 4 years from 2016.

Reduction in social sector rents

If you are living in social housing (from us or a Housing Association) your rent will reduce by 1% per year for 4 years from 2016. If you are living in supported accommodation this rent reduction has been delayed until 2017.

 For all new or renewal tenancies made from 1st April 2016 for non-supported accommodation the calculation of Housing Benefit and Universal Credit will be limited to the applicable Local Housing Allowance (LHA). If you are single and under 35 the maximum Housing Benefit or Universal Credit will be the shared accommodation rate of LHA.

Additional bedroom allowance

Do you or your partner have a carer who stays overnight in your home to help care for a disabled child or another adult who lives with you who is disabled?

  • Is the overnight care provided by a carer who doesn’t live in your home?
  • Do you actually have a spare bedroom that your carer uses overnight?

If the answer to all these questions is yes, then from 1 April 2017 the help you get with your rent may be able to take account of this.

From 1 April 2017, a bedroom that is used by a carer (or team of carers) who doesn’t actually live in your home but provides overnight care for either a disabled child or a disabled adult who lives with you, can be taken into account when working out how much Housing Benefit to pay.

Are you or your partner unable to share a bedroom because of a physical disability?

  • Do you and your partner sleep in separate bedrooms because of this?

If the answer to these questions is yes, then from 1 April 2017 the help you get with your rent may be able to take account of this.

From 1 April 2017, an extra bedroom can be taken into account when working out how much Housing Benefit to pay, if a couple are unable to share a bedroom because of a physical disability. We must also be satisfied that you and your partner cannot reasonably share a bedroom due to your disability and that a spare bedroom is available in the household for that use.

What to do now

In some cases, this could result in an increase in Housing Benefit, however all your circumstances would need to be considered to decide whether you can get more money. This will include whether you or your partner are entitled to certain disability benefits.

Even if your Housing Benefit doesn’t increase as a result, it is still in your interest to tell the Benefits Team if you and your partner are unable to share a bedroom.
So, if you think that you might be entitled to help with the cost of an additional bedroom as you and your partner are unable to share (due to a physical disability) please speak to the Benefits Team on 01395 517446 or email  benefits@eastdevon.gov.uk