The government has introduced a number of major changes to the Housing Benefit system.
The Welfare Reform and Work Act (2016) introduces some changes to the benefit cap. These changes, which will take effect in Autumn 2016, include changes to the benefit cap levels to £23,000 a year for couples with or without children and lone parents and £15,410 for single people without children in Greater London, and £20,000 and £13,400 respectively for those groups elsewhere in Great Britain. 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.
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.
From April 2016 Housing Benefit can be backdated for a maximum of a month (this was previously 6 months).
National Living Wage
From 1 April 2016 the new National Living Wage is £7.20 an hour for workers age 25 and above and rising to £9 and hour by 2020.
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.
Removal of the Family Premium
The Family Premium is an extra allowance families receive when their income is compared to the amount of money the government says they can live on (this is called an applicable amount). For all new claims made after 1st May the Family Premium will not be included in the calculation. It will continue for families already receiving this.