On the 1st April a dramatic shake up of the Housing Benefit system starts. It will see almost every household currently in receipt of Local Housing Allowance (LHA) have their benefits cut.
If you're you going to be affected you need to act fast if you want to prepare for the inevitable.
Here's what you need to know:
The changes will affect every household that claims Local Housing Allowance. This is a benefit paid to individuals on a low income who live in privately rented accommodation.
Those that rent from a housing association or local council won't be affected. Neither will most households that started claiming help with rent costs before 2008 and haven't since changed their circumstances.
An end to weekly excess payments
This is a benefit currently paid to households whose rent is lower than the housing benefit rate set for their area. It's currently worth up to £15 a week but will be stopped as of the 1st April.
A stop on claims for 5 bedroom properties
From 1st April claims will no longer be paid for rent on 5 bedroom properties. Instead, the maximum payment available will equal the Housing Benefit paid to those living in a 4 bedroom property.
A cap on payments
A weekly cap on the amount that can be claimed towards rent costs will be applied to all properties. The maximum claim will be dependent on the number of bedrooms in a property and is as follows:
1 bedroom: £250 a week
A change in the way LHA is calculated
At the moment Local Housing Allowance rates are set so that 50% of properties in an area will be affordable to those in receipt of the benefit. However, from 1st April rates will be reduced so that only 30% of properties in an area will be affordable to those on housing benefit.
Extra bedroom space for overnight carers
Individuals who are registered disabled and in receipt of LHA will be entitled to claim for additional bedroom space if they need overnight care from a non-residential carer.
When you'll be affected by the changes depends on your circumstances now.
If you receive housing benefit your Local Housing Association will have written to you explaining the changes and outlining how you'll be affected. If you haven't received a letter you should contact your Local Housing Association right away.
You can also use this Housing Benefit Update tool to check what's changing in your local area. Information about the new payment rates are also listed on the Scottish, Welsh and English government websites.
If you're going to be affected by the cuts it's important to prepare yourself financially. You should:
i really think the council should do there home work
bringing in this SRR to the age of 35 is rubbish..what difference does it make if you are 16 or 100 yrs old you still need some were to live.i think the world as gone mad.they told us were we can and carnt smoke...tried to tell us what we can and carnt wear (hoodys ect)now they are trying to put more young kids on the street as they will not beable to afford to live in a bedsit ect.unless they are 35 yrs or over.come on for god sake by the time you get 35yrs your life is more or less sorted.job married.ect but its the young kids that need the help why make it harder for them.get a grip of the real world.
The LHA rates currently only apply to tenants who rent from a private landlord.
Local authorities can provide extra benefit to private tenants with a rent to benefit shortfall. It's called discretionary housing payment. As funding is discretionary, a local authority can still refuse extra payment, but they are not allowed to keep the funding, it has to be spent.