Housing Benefit Cut: Will You Have to Move?

by from money.co.uk, Last Updated: 14 November 2014

A dramatic shake up of the Housing Benefit system began on 1st April, 2013, with almost every household in receipt of Local Housing Allowance (LHA) having their benefits cut.

Black Empty House

Here's what you need to know:

Who was affected?

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.

What changed?

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. The payment, worth up to £15 a week, was stopped on the 1st April.

A stop on claims for 5 bedroom properties
From 1st April claims are no longer paid for rent on 5 bedroom properties. Instead, the maximum payment available is the same as 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 now applies to all properties. The maximum claim is dependent on the number of bedrooms in a property and is as follows:

  • 1 bedroom: £250 a week
  • 2 bedrooms: £290 a week
  • 3 bedrooms: £340 a week
  • 4 bedrooms: £400 a week

A change in the way LHA is calculated
Previously, Local Housing Allowance rates were set so that 50% of properties in an area will be affordable to those in receipt of the benefit. However, new rates that came into place on 1st April 2013 mean 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 can claim for additional bedroom space if they need overnight care from a non-residential carer.

When will the changes affect you?

When you'll be affected by the changes depends on your circumstances.

  • New LHA claims (made after 1st April) are subject to the new rules
  • Existing claimants that move house or experience a change in circumstances after 1st April will be affected immediately upon submitting their new claim
  • Existing claimants that don't experience a change in circumstances will be affected by the changes 9 months after the anniversary of their claim (the date they first started claiming LHA). The exception to this is the weekly excess payment which will be stopped on the next anniversary of their claim.

How can I find out how I'll be affected?

Your Local Housing Association should already have written to you explaining the changes and outlining how you've been 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.

What can I do about it?

If you're going to be affected by the cuts it's important to prepare yourself financially. You should:

  1. Find out how much you've lost
  2. Work out whether you can still afford to live in your current home
  3. Speak to your Local Housing Authority to discuss your options
  4. Speak to your landlord to negotiate on the cost of your rent
  5. Cut back your spending and budget so you can cope financially with the drop in income
  6. Check you're on the best energy tariff and that you're not paying any more than you need to for other utilities like water, broadband and your home phone.

Responses

add your response here

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.

by Anonymous, 19 Mar 2011

pity ! you live in a mad world ! but i have to say that this is the life ,you love it or not !i don't i m very positive ,but i think that in fact many people face with the similar situation as you !
complain less ,guy !
good luck ! hope you get better !

by zutou, 18 Oct 2011

why penalise people who because there are not enough council houses available they have to rent privately.

by hafan4, 7 Jun 2012

I think the bar at the houses of parliament should not be on an expence account, they get wages and expencies, 2 tear benefit system, I have more respect for the young people who dont have a chance, when a lot of the taxpayers money is paying for a free lunch, while people in need are getting bad reputations,, for rent, basic living expencies. i think we need a revolution to stop free lunches and corrupt white collar crime.

by sandy2, 26 Jun 2012
add a comment

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.

by MacP, 25 Aug 2012
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