Benefit changes - Walsall Housing Group Website

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Benefit changes

In April 2013 the government introduced changes to benefits, affecting many of you who paid rent either in full, or in part, by housing benefit.

The changes meant that you may now receive less housing benefit if the government decided you have one or more 'spare' bedrooms.  For more information read our All about changes to housing benefit leaflet or watch the video below.

There are a number of ways in which we can help you. You can talk to our Money Advice Service  for benefits and debt advice, set up a Direct Debit, consider moving to a smaller home or think about taking in a lodger.  You may also consider finding employment -  JobCentre Plus can help.


 

Below are our most frequently asked questions - simply select the 'Benefit changes' category and click 'Go'. If you have any questions which aren't answered below please complete our Benefit changes form or call one of our benefits and debt advice specialists on 0300 555 6666.

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    Benefit changes

  1. Who will be affected?

    If you are aged between 16 and 61 and live in a whg home, and the government decides you have one or more 'spare' bedrooms your housing benefit may be reduced.

  2. Who won't be affected?

    People who receive pension credits or who live in a one bedroom flat or bedsit.

  3. How do I know if I have 'spare' bedrooms?

    You are allowed one bedroom for:

    • each adult or 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 10 regardless of their sex

    • any further child

    • a carer (who does not normally live with you) if you or your partner need overnight care.

  4. How much benefit will I lose?

    If you have one 'spare' bedroom, the first 14% of your rent will not be covered by housing benefit. If you have two or more spare bedrooms, the first 25% of your rent will not be covered by housing benefit. You will have to pay the difference between the amount of housing benefit you receive and your weekly rent charge.

  5. I'm disabled - will this affect me?

    Yes, it could affect you. If you are of working age, have a disability and need a 'spare' bedroom so that a carer can stay overnight, you should make us and Walsall Council aware so that we can help you keep more of your housing benefit.

  6. Is this the only change to housing benefit?

    No. From April 2013, there will be a maximum amount of benefit you are allowed to receive. The government will add up how much money you get from different benefits including housing benefit, jobseeker's allowance, employment support allowance, child benefit, child tax credits and carer's allowance. If the total comes to more than the maximum amount allowed, your housing payments will be reduced. The maximum amount of benefit will be:

    • £500 per week for couples with or without children

    • £500 per week for single parents

    • £350 per week for single people without children.

  7. Can you give me some examples?

    1. Mr and Mrs Smith live in a two-bedroom flat costing £70 per week in rent. 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 not cover the first 14% of their rent (14% of £70 = £9.80). They will now have to pay £9.80 per week towards their rent.

    2. Mr and Mrs Bell live with their two teenage boys, aged 13 and 15, in a three-bedroom house. Their rent is £85 per week and they receive £10 per week in housing benefit towards the cost of their rent. Under the new rules their children will be expected to share a bedroom and so they will be treated as having one spare. Their housing benefit will not cover the first 14% of their rent (14% of £85 = £11.90), and so they will lose all of their housing benefit and have to pay an extra £10 per week towards their rent.

  8. I'm worried - what can I do?

    You should ask for advice now. If you don't pay your rent you could lose your home. Contact us on 0300 555 6666 and make an appointment with one of our benefits and debt advice specialists who can check that you are receiving your full benefit entitlement and offer budgeting and money advice. You could consider:

    • setting up a Direct Debit

    • consider moving to a smaller home

    • taking in a lodger, depending on your type of tenancy.

  9. Who can I ask about financial help?

    Contact Walsall Council to ask about extra financial help. Councils have a limited amount of money available to make discretionary payments towards housing costs. The council may prioritise your claim if you have a disability and your house has been adapted.

    Get in touch with Walsall Citizens Advice Bureau on 01922 700600 for free independent advice, call the government information line 0845 605 7064 or visit www.direct.gov.uk/benefitcap. You can also call us on 0300 555 6666.

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