In April 2013 the government introduced some major changes to the UK benefit system which may have affected your benefit payments.

We want to make sure you are well informed about how you can reduce the impact of the changes and tell you about any help and support on offer.

Universal Credit

This is a monthly payment for working-age people who are on a low income or out of work.

It replaces the following benefits:

  • Income-based Job Seeker's Allowance
  • Income-based Employment and Support allowance
  • Income support
  • Working Tax Credits
  • Child Tax Credits
  • Housing benefit

Find out more about Universal credit.

Under Occupation (Bedroom tax)

If you rent and have too many bedrooms for the size of your family you may lose up to 25% of your housing cost element of Universal Credit or housing benefit.

Under the new government rules you're entitled to 1 bedroom for:

  • each adult couple
  • any other person aged 16 or over
  • 2 children of the same sex under the age of 16
  • 2 children under the age of 10 regardless of their sex
  • any other child
  • an overnight carer (who does not normally live with you)

You're also allowed an extra room if:

  • you've fostered a child or become an approved foster carer in the last 12 months
  • you have adult children in the armed forces (as long as they intend to return)

Disabled children and couples may be eligible for their own room if:

  • they are eligible for the highest or middle-rate care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Daily living component Personal Independence Payment, Attendance Allowance higher rate or Armed Forces Independence Payment
  • your local authority is satisfied that sharing a bedroom would pose significant disruption or disturbance.

The bedroom tax will apply if:

  • your children live elsewhere - but you have a spare room for when they stay with you
  • you are of working age (16 upwards to your pension credit age. You can check your state pension age on the Gov.uk website)
  • you only get a small amount of housing benefit
  • you are sick or disabled

I have a spare bedroom. How will it affect me?

If you have 1 spare bedroom your housing benefit will be cut by 14% of the rent you pay every week. If you have 2 or more spare bedrooms you'll lose 25%.

Give me an example

If you get £70 per week in housing benefit - and have 1 spare bedroom - your benefit will be cut by 14%. This means you'll end up with £60.20.

Benefits cap

The government has set a limit on the amount of benefit people can receive so that you will never receive more in benefit than you would if you were in work. The cap applies to all people claiming benefits who are of working age but are not currently in work.

The government says that the average amount of benefit lost is around £83 a week. If the cap does apply to you then any extra benefit you receive above the cap will be taken from your Universal Credit or Housing Benefit.

Who is exempt?

  • Single people or couples who are of pension age (unless on Universal Credit).
  • Households where one or more members receive Working Tax Credit or in Universal Credit and earnings are £430 net or more for the month which is being assessed.
  • Households where at least one member receives Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Constant Attendance Allowance or Personal Independence Payments.
  • War widows and widowers.
  • Households where you, your partner or a dependent child receive carers allowance or guardians allowance.
  • People in receipt of industrial injuries disablement.

What is the cap?

The benefit cap levels for Greater London are:

  • £296 a week for single adults with no children
  • £442 a week for couples and lone parent

The benefit cap levels for outside Greater London are:

  • £258 a week for single adults with no children
  • £385 a week for couples and lone parent

To find out about what benefits are affected by benefit cap visit GOV.UK

Get help

If you're still unsure, get help and advice from our Money Advice Team

Email: moneyadvice@placesforpeople.co.uk

Tel: 01772 666446.