Benefits

As you may be aware the UK Government is making changes to the benefits system including reducing the amount of Housing Benefit some people can claim. This section of the website provides you with details of the changes and the help available for tenants.

CCHA has contacted all of our tenants who we think may be affected by the Housing Benefit changes which started in April 2013.

Our staff are trained to help you prepare for the changes so if you need advice or have any questions please contact our Money Advice Team on 029 2046 8493, or email money@ccha.org.uk You can also speak to your Housing Officer, just call 029 2046 8490 and ask for Housing.

You can also get independent help by calling 0300 3031073, visiting the facebook page facebook.com/YourBenefitsAreChanging by texting change to 80018. The trained advisors will call you back to talk about the changes that could affect you and how you can prepare for them.

You can also find out more about universal credit by watching this video:

Money Advice Service’s Online Money Manager is an interactive tool that offers personalised advice, on making the most of your money while you’re on Universal Credit. It offers help and advice on a range of money topics, including opening a bank account, keeping on top of bills and dealing with debt: https://obs.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/

Under the new rules, from April 2013 if you have more bedrooms than the UK Government says you need, you will lose part of your housing benefit. This change is referred to as under occupancy or the ‘bedroom tax’.

The new rules mean that you will be allocated one bedroom (there is no minimum room size, see below) for:

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

It does not matter how the ‘spare’ bedroom is used, the new rules will apply even if:

  • you and your partner need to sleep apart because of a medical condition
  • the main residence of your children is another address, but you have a spare room for when they stay with you.

This could affect you:

  • if you are 16 to 61 years old
  • even if you only get a small amount of housing benefit – for example, if you are working
  • even if you are sick or disabled

You won’t be affected if:

  • you live in a one bedroom flat or bedsit, or if
  • you or your partner are old enough to receive pension credits

How much will I lose?
If you have one ‘spare’ bedroom your housing benefit will be cut
by 14 per cent of your full weekly rent. If you have two or more spare
bedrooms, you will lose 25 per cent.

How will the changes affect me?
If your current rent is £80 per week and you have one spare bedroom you will have to pay £11.20 per week towards your rent. If you have two or more spare bedrooms you will have to pay £20.

What about bedroom size?
There are a lot of rumours circulating that any bedrooms under 70 sq. ft. should not be classed as a bedroom for the purposes for people claiming Housing Benefit and Universal credit.
This rumour is incorrect. It appears to be based on a misreading of the space standards set out in the Housing Act 1985 for the purpose of defining statutory overcrowding. There may sometimes be a legitimate question about whether a particular room should properly be designated as a bedroom, but this is a matter for landlords to determine. Further details can be found here

If your benefit is cut you will have to pay CCHA the difference between your housing benefit and your rent. If you are worried about being able to afford to pay your rent from April 2013 please contact us now as if you don’t pay your rent you could lose your home.

You can also:

  • Talk to us about transferring to a smaller home
  • Consider taking in a lodger
  • Get advice on budgeting and saving money on household bills
  • Make sure you are claiming all the benefits you can – for example, money to help with the costs of a disability
  • Try to find some paid work to increase your income

Do you have a disability and need overnight care?
If you are of working age, have a disability and need a ‘spare’ bedroom so that a carer can stay overnight you should contact your local council now so that staff can help you keep more of your housing benefit.

If you need advice or have any questions please contact our Money Advice Team on 029 2046 8493, or email money@ccha.org.uk – you can also speak to your Housing Officer, just call 029 2046 8490 and ask for Housing.

The UK Government is changing the way people receive their benefits. The next major change is the introduction of Universal Credit.

This short film explains the changes:

If you receive any of the following you will be affected:

  • Income based job seekers allowance
  • Housing benefit
  • Income related employment and support allowance
  • Income support
  • Child tax credit
  • Working tax credit

Claimants will receive their money in one lump sum each month directly into their bank account. If you are used to having your money paid weekly this will be a big change as you will need to make sure your money lasts until the end of the month.

The changes also mean that you will receive your Housing Benefit directly and will be responsible for paying your rent to CCHA.

In order to get ready for the changes you need to do three things:

1. Open a bank account (or start using the one you already have) – Universal Credit will only be paid into a bank account. If you don’t already have a bank account you will need one soon.

2. Get online – the Government has said that, in future, any claims or change of circumstances for Universal Credit will need to be made online (using a computer). Free internet access is available at all council libraries

3. Get budgeting – when Universal Credit comes in, you may not receive your first payment until at least four weeks after your last money came in. The money you receive will be a large lump sum to see you through the next four weeks. If you haven’t had to budget over a month before this can be quite a challenge.

Need help?
If you need help with any of the above please contact the national Your Benefits are Changing team on 0300 303 1073 or text ‘change’ to 80018 and an adviser will call you back.

CCHA has produced this leaflet with help and advice on Universal Credits: Universal Credit

You can also contact CCHA’s Money Advice Team on 029 2046 8493. They can offer advice over the phone, at our office or visit you at home.

The DWP have launched a website with help and information on Universal Credit and making a claim: DWP website