From 1st April 2013 the way in which Housing and Council Tax Benefit is calculated has changed. These changes have been made as part of the Governments Welfare Reform agenda. Further information on Welfare Reform can be found on the Department for Work and Pensions website.
There are several changes which affect Housing and / or Council Tax Benefit. Click on the headings below for more information.
The cap was introduced in July 2013 and is applied to the combined income from the main out-of-work benefits, plus child benefit and child tax credits for people of working age only.
From July 2013 to March 2016 the cap was:
- £500 p/wk for couples and lone parents
- £350 p/wk for single adults
From 7th November 2016 the DWP have reduced the cap to:
- £384.62 p/wk for couples and lone parents
- £257.69 p/wk for single adults
The DWP have updated their benefit cap calculator which you can use to see how you may be affected.
More information on the Benefit Cap can be found in our fact sheet below.
Further help on budgeting for these changes can be obtained from the Citizens Advice Bureau.
Are you thinking of going back to work?
For advice on the benefits that may be available if you return to work please click on the leaflet below.
From April 2013, reduced Housing Benefit has been paid to working age tenants who have spare bedrooms in their home. This new rule will apply to all tenants in Housing Association properties and Council tenants.
If you have a spare bedroom, the eligible rent used to calculate your claim will be reduced by 14%. If you have two spare bedrooms this reduction is 25%.
Who will be affected?
One bedroom will be allocated for each of the following:
- a couple
- a person who is not a child (aged 16 and over)
- two children of the same sex
- two children who are under 10
- any other child, (other than a child whose main home is elsewhere)
A recent Upper Benefit Tribunal decision has confirmed that in relation to the Under Occupancy rules, there is no minimum size for a bedroom.
Use the on-line calculator to find out how you will be affected.
What do you need to tell us?
- If you are disabled and the property has been significantly adapted for your needs let us know.
- If you have disabled children who are unable to share a bedroom let us know.
- If you have a non-resident carer who stays overnight, you may be allowed an additional room.
If any of these provisions apply please contact us by email or call us on 01543 464292.
What do you need to do next
Check with your Landlord that they have told us the number of Bedrooms in your property.
If you are likely to be affected by these changes, contact the Citizens Advice Bureau who will be able to provide help on budgeting and talk through some of the other options with you.
Interested in renting out a spare room?
If you have a spare room or you are looking for accommodation and would like to find out more, there are a couple of leaflets that you may find useful. Renting rooms in someone's house and letting rooms in your home contain all the information you need.
For more information on Under Occupancy click here.
Exemption to the Under Occupancy Rule.
Due to a gap in Government legislation, a small number of tenants will not be affected by the Under Occupancy rules until the 3rd March 2014. For this delay to be applied a tenant must meet all of the following conditions:
1. Been continuously in receipt of housing benefit since at least 1st January 1996
2. Been resident at the same dwelling since that date, except where there has been a fire, flood, explosion or natural catastrophe that rendered the property uninhabitable.
The exemption outlined above continues to apply if there has been a break and:
1. that break was for no more than 4 weeks
2. or no more than 52 weeks if the claimant or their partner is a welfare to work beneficiary.
We have already contacted those tenants that we believe fall into this exemption. If you believe you were exempt and have not been contacted contact our Customer Services team on 01543 464292
Localisation of Council Tax Benefit
The Government has abolished the national council tax benefit scheme. From 1st April 2013, the local authority has introduced a local council tax reduction scheme (LCTRS). This was a major change from the Government that has had a significant impact on our budget and the finances of families and individuals.
Those people who are classed as pensionable age and in receipt of pension credit are not affected by these changes and will continue to receive the same level of support on the new scheme as they did on the old. If you are unsure whether you are of pensionable age use the on line calculator to find out.
Working age customers are affected by these changes. The differences between the old national scheme and the new local scheme are shown below:
- Maximum entitlement is based upon 80% of Council Tax Liability (capped at Band D) unless you have a child under the age of 5 or you receive a Severe Disability Premium. In which case your maximum entitlement will be based upon 100% of Council Tax Liability (capped at Band D)
- Second adult rebate is no longer available under the local scheme.
- Anyone with more than £6000 capital will not be able to claim Local Council Tax Support.
- Child benefit will be included in the assessment of the claim. Child Maintenance will be fully disregarded (from April 2014).
- The first £25 per week of earned income will not be taken into account in the assessment of the claim.
- There will be a £5 per week deduction made for any non dependants in the property who are not working. The amount of this deduction increases to £10 per week of the non dependant is working.
For an estimate on your entitlement use the on line calculator. Remember this is only an estimate and is dependant on the information you submit.
For those individuals significantly affected by this change, the Authority is operating a Discretionary Payment scheme. Applications will be considered on a case by case basis, to apply for a Discretionary Payment please complete the on-line form. (Please note that as part of Shared Service the on-line form is on the Stafford Borough Council website).
A full copy of the Local Council Tax Support regulations and a summary of the regulations are available below.
Local Council Tax Support regulations April 2015 to March 2016
Local Council Tax Support Regulations April 2014 to March 2015
Council Tax Reduction Scheme - Summary
Local Council Tax Support regulations April 2016 to March 2017
Council Tax Reduction Scheme - Summary 2016/17
Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme Regulations 2017/18
New Claims for Housing Benefit are scheduled to be made through Universal Credit from October 2013. For more information on this and how Universal Credit will be introduced click here
Landlords.....How to request a direct payment of benefit and further information on Universal Credit
Please click on the attachment below for further information:
Last Updated: 08/03/2017