Benefits & Welfare

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Benefits (Welfare Reform)

Major changes to the benefits system have come into force in the last few years, including the Benefit Cap, the Bedroom Tax and the roll out of Universal Credit.

There may be changes to your eligibility to your benefits (known as Welfare Reform) please read on for details. If you are affected by the Welfare Reforms and experiencing financial difficulties in managing your rent accounts, please contact the Income Team.

We will sign post you to the relevant agencies who can help you with budgeting skills and provide you with money advice. The Income team can also support you with applying for the Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP). This is an extra payment to help people pay their rent. DHP is paid to people receiving Housing Benefit or the housing costs element of Universal Credit who need more help with their housing costs. DHP is paid in addition to your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit entitlement.

We do advise that there is no guarantee that your DHP application will be successful, but if you are allowed any DHP, this will only be a temporary fix to your financial problem and will not continue for the long term. Once the DHP payments do stop, you are responsible for making the payments.

We are also working in partnership with the Department of Work and Pension (DWP) to support customers with finding employment.
If you require financial advice, please click here. For more information on Benefits please click here.

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a single monthly payment for people in or out of work, which merges together some of the benefits and tax credits that you might be getting now and also includes the housing benefit. It is paid every month into your bank account.

In November 2015 Universal Credit was introduced to new single claimants between 18 and 60 years 6 months, and eligible for Jobseeker’s allowance.
Universal Credit is the biggest change in the welfare system in a generation and will have a huge impact on MHA and customers.

We anticipate the full Universal Credit role out in Bradford in the spring of 2018. The migration of all the existing housing benefit claims to Universal Credit will start in 2019 and is expected to be completed by March 2022.

In preparation for the forthcoming full service of UC in Bradford in the spring of 2018, we will be in contact to update our customers’ details on our system.

Our experience so far with the single Universal Credit claimants is, that the Universal Credit customers are significantly falling behind with their rent payments. This is mainly due to the time it takes for the Universal credit claim to be processed, which takes up to 6-7 weeks, by this time customers have built up 7 weeks’ rent debt.

From April 2017 the Government is going to remove the automatic entitlement to housing costs in Universal Credit full service areas.

The government is going to axe the Universal Credit housing costs Element for claimants aged 18 to 21 years old to force young unemployed people to live with their parents or pay their own rent. This means that unemployed under-22s will no longer qualify for help with their rental costs.

This will not apply to claimants in receipt of Housing Benefit or those receiving Universal Credit in Live Service areas. We anticipate Bradford becoming a full UC service area in June 2018, this is when the under 22s living in Bradford will no longer receive the Universal Credit housing costs element.

There will be exceptions, including vulnerable young people, those who may not be able to return home to live with their parents, and those who have been in work for 6 months prior to making a claim, who will continue to be able to receive housing support for up to 6 months while they look for work.

For example:

Claimant responsible for a child or a qualifying young person will not be affected.
Claimants who are unable to live with their parents, because they don’t have parents or neither parent occupies accommodation as their home will not be affected.

For more information on Universal Credit please click here.

Under Occupation (Bedroom Tax) & Benefit Cap

Bedroom Tax
In April 2013 the Government introduced a tax on spare bedrooms for people living in housing association properties –
Having one spare bedroom will mean you will lose 14% of your entitled housing benefit.
Having two or more spare bedrooms will mean you will lose 25% of your entitlement.
The government says children of the same gender under 16 can share a bedroom.

Benefits Cap
The Benefit Cap is a limit on the total amount of work related benefits you can get if you are of working age. The Benefit Cap will only affect you if you’re getting Housing Benefit or Universal Credit. If the cap affects you, your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit housing element is reduced.

In August 2013 the government introduced £26,000 benefit cap, which put limitations on the amount of benefits that could be claimed:

  • Couples with or without children and lone parents could claim £500 per week (£26,000 per annum.)
  • Single adults could claim £350 per week (£18200.00 per annum)

The £26,000 cap mostly affected large families claiming work related benefits and living in 4 + bedroom properties.

From 7 November 2016 the cap levels were lowered from £26,000 to £20,000 for our region.

The new £20,000 cap is going to affect all our customers claiming work-related benefits and living in 3 bedroom properties and have 3 or more dependent children.

  • Couples with or without children and lone parents can now claim £384.62 per week (£20,000.24 per annum)
  • Single adults can now claim £257.69 per week (£13399.88 per annum).