Changes to housing benefit - What you need to know
The amount of housing benefit some people can claim has been reduced from April 2013
- working age claimants with a spare bedroom in all areas; and
- working age claimants who claim more than £500 in benefits in Bromley, Croydon, Enfield and Haringey (residents in other areas will be affected from July).
L&Q want to speak to every resident affected. If you are affected and have not yet spoken to us, or you are not sure whether you are affected, please call our Revenue team on 0800 015 6536.
The below information also includes updates for foster carers, residents with children serving in the armed forces and residents with severely disabled children.
Change 1 - Size criteria
How many bedrooms do you have?
From April 2013, if you have one or more spare bedrooms and you
receive housing benefit, your housing benefit may be reduced.
This could affect you:
- If you are aged between 16 and 61
- Even if you only get a small amount of housing benefit for example, if you are working
- Even if you are sick or disabled
You won't be affected if you or your partner are old enough to receive pension credits. In April 2013 the pension credit age will be around 61 years and six months.
What is a spare bedroom?
Under the new rules, if you have more bedrooms than the
Government says you need, you will lose part of your housing
benefit. The new rules mean you will be allocated one bedroom
- Each adult couple
- Any other person aged 16 or over
- Two children of the same sex under the age of 16
- Two children under the age of ten, regardless of their sex
- Any other child
- A carer (who does not normally live with you) if you or your partner need overnight care
It does not matter how the spare bedroom is used. The new rules
will apply even if:
- You and your partner need to sleep apart because of a medical condition
- You have a spare room for when your children or other people come to stay
What happens if you have a spare bedroom?
If you have one spare bedroom, your housing benefit will be cut
by 14% of the rent you pay every week. If you have two or more
spare bedrooms, you will lose 25%.
If your benefit is cut you will have to pay the difference between your housing benefit and your rent.
Do you have a disability and need overnight care?
If you are of working age, have a disability and need a spare bedroom so that a carer can stay overnight, you should contact your local council now. That way, staff there can help you to keep more of your housing benefit.
I have heard about exemptions for foster carers, residents with children serving in the armed forces and residents with severely disabled children, what are these?
The government has recently announced that foster carers and residents with children serving in the armed forces who continue to live with parents will be entitled to an extra bedroom.
If you think this might affect you, you should contact your local authority immediately.
As a result of a Court of Appeal judgment, local authorities should also allow an extra bedroom for children who are unable to share because of their severe disabilities. It will be for local authorities to determine whether there is a need for an extra bedroom. This does not apply to adults who are unable to share because of disability.
If you have severely disabled children who are not able to share a room, you should contact your local authority immediately.
Change 2 - Limit on benefits
From April 2013, the overall amount of benefit you can receive
will be capped if you live in Bromley, Croydon, Enfield or
Haringey. This will be brought in for residents in all other areas
from 15 July 2013.
The Government will add up how much money you get from a range of benefits, including:
- Housing benefit
- Jobseeker's allowance
- Employment support allowance
- Child benefit
- Child tax credit
- Carer's allowance
If the total comes to more than the maximum amount allowed, your
housing benefit payments will be reduced.
The maximum amount of benefit you will be able to receive from April 2013 will be:
- £500 per week for single parents
- £500 per week for couples with or without children
- £350 per week for single people without children
This will not apply to you if:
- You get pension credit or working tax credit
- A member of your household is claiming disability living allowance, attendance allowance or the support element of employment support allowance
What should I do?
If you are worried about being able to pay your rent from April 2013, you should ask for advice now. If you don't pay your rent you could lose your home, so it is important that you speak to us.
How L&Q can help
Payment options - We have a range of ways you can pay your rent including direct debit and card payments. We can discuss the different options with you.
To find out more please visit our
Advice services - If you are concerned about how you will afford your rent, we have a range of specialist advice services that might be able to help you including:
- Telephone advice
- Specialist debt, welfare and money advice in some areas in partnership with local Citizen's Advice Bureaux
- Practical help and support
By talking to us, we will understand what you need and will
refer you to a service that can help you. You can also find links
to useful websites on our
money advice page.
Please contact L&Qs Revenue team on 0800 015 6536.
Housing options - If you want to move to a smaller property or take a lodger, we can discuss the different options available to you.
You can find out more on our
moving home page.
Energy efficiency - We can help you save money by reducing your energy bills. Our EnergySave project will be visiting thousands of homes over the next two years, installing energy-saving equipment and providing you with expert energy advice. The programme will be delivered both on your doorstep and through our new EnergySave website.
Getting back to work - We run a range of employability and training projects that can help you get into paid work.
We run a range of training courses and events to help you gain
skills and experience that will assist you in the work place. To
find out more please visit our
Please contact us on 0800 015 6536 for more information.
What else can I do?
You can also:
- Contact your council to ask about extra financial help councils have a limited amount of money available to make discretionary payments towards housing costs. Your council may prioritise your claim if you have a disability and your house has been adapted
- Get in touch with your local Citizen's Advice Bureaux or other local advice agencies
- Make sure you are claiming all the benefits you can for example, money to help with the costs of a disability
- Try to find some paid work to increase your income
- Get more information about the cap on benefits by calling the Government's information line on 0845 605 7064
Don’t put your home at riskContact us today if you think these changes to benefits will affect you or if you aren't sure. If you don't pay your rent you could lose your home, so it is important that you speak to us. Don't delay - call our Revenue team now on 0800 015 6536.
Mr and Mrs Singh rent a two-bedroom flat costing £100 per week. At the moment, housing benefit covers the full cost of their rent. Under the new rules, they will have one spare bedroom. Their housing benefit will be reduced by 14% of their rent (14% of £100 = £14). Their housing benefit will be reduced by £14 to £86 per week. This means they will have to pay £14 per week towards their rent.
Mr and Mrs Bell live with their two teenage boys, aged 13 and 15, in a three-bedroom house. Their rent is £115 per week and they receive £10 per week in housing benefit. Under the new rules their children will be expected to share a bedroom and so they will be treated as having one bedroom spare. Their housing benefit will be reduced by 14% of £115 (£16.10). In this case, they will lose all their housing benefit.