The Welfare Reform Act, brought in by the Government in 2012, is changing many people’s eligibility to particular benefits - but we’re here to help you make any adjustments that may be needed.
April 2013 saw the introduction of the 'bedroom tax' (under-occupancy changes) and the rollout of Universal Credit, which replaces many existing benefits, is now underway for new claimants.
Further changes were introduced in the Summer Budget of 2015. Find out more about the Summer Budget.
It is very important that you make sure you are equipped to deal with these changes. Here at RBH we are here to help you - please get in touch with our team on 0800 027 7769.
The reforms will have wide reaching effects on working age benefit claimants.
THESE CHANGES DO NOT AFFECT TENANTS WHO ARE BEYOND WORKING AGE, THAT IS, THOSE PEOPLE WHO ARE ELIGIBLE FOR PENSION CREDIT.
Important changes you need to be aware of:
Universal Credit - introduced in September 2014
Universal Credit is a single benefit payment which will replace a number of existing benefits.
Housing Benefit will be paid directly to you through Universal Credit. You will receive Universal Credit monthly in arrears.
This means you will have to make arrangements to pay your rent to RBH.
Under occupancy charges (‘Bedroom tax’)
Since April 2013, all social housing tenants only receive benefit for the size of home their household 'needs'. Housing Benefit will be reduced by 14% of the rent for households who under occupy by one bedroom and by 25% for those who under occupy by two bedrooms.
You may be entitled to some extra help with a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP). Contact our team for more advice on DHP, or visit the Rochdale Council website to apply.
The borough’s Discretionary Crisis Fund
The borough has been provided with funding to replace what was the social fund administered by the DWP. The Discretionary Crisis Fund (DCF) may be available to help people purchase essential household items when they are settling into the borough after leaving care or prison or if they have had to leave their own home due to domestic violence.
The fund may be able to help people who are in a crisis and need emergency fuel or travel. There is limited funding and it is therefore to be used as the scheme of last resort for people suffering hardship.
In April 2013, the overall amount of benefit you can receive was capped at £26,000 per year. The Government adds 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 and carer's allowance. Any benefits in excess of the cap will be cut from your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit Housing Element and you will need to make arrangements to pay RBH any shortfall.
From April 2016 the cap will be further reduced to £20,000 per year.
Housing Benefit (HB) for 18-21 olds
From April 2016, 18-21 year olds will generally not be eligible for Housing Benefit. Some people may be exempt from this such as those fleeing domestic abuse, or those estranged from their parents, those where living at home is simply not an option and for those who are considered to be vulnerable.
Changes to Council Tax Benefit
In April 2013, the Government abolished Council Tax Benefit. In the Borough of Rochdale the scheme will be called the "Local Council Tax Support Scheme".
Personal Independence Payment
Personal Independence Payment has replaced Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for disabled people aged 16 to 64. However, Disability Living Allowance will continue for children up to the age of 16.
PIP is a non-means tested and tax-free payment. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will write to current claimants between 2013 and 2016 to let them know when they can apply for Personal Independence Payment. There is no automatic entitlement to Personal Independence Payment.
Entitlement is not based on your disability or illness. It is based on your personal circumstances and what help you need to be able to live independently. The only exception is for people who are terminally ill and who are not expected to live for more than six months.