The Welfare Reform Act has been hailed as the biggest shake up of the benefit system in the last 60 years.
It aims to make work pay by ensuring people are better off for each hour they work and every pound they earn. The Act affects a large proportion of our customers - especially new applicants and the purpose of this page is to ensure we keep you up to date with what’s happening so you can work out how its likely to effect you.
The main changes to be brought into effect in 2016 are:
Change Taking Place
Universal Credit is currently for single people who are looking for work; families and couples will claim Universal Credit in the future. Universal Credit is paid to you monthly in arrears and includes money that is intended for your rent. When you are moved on to Universal Credit, you will need to arrange the best way for you to pay your rent. You will usually wait for 6 weeks before you receive your first Universal Credit payment. You can ask for an advance to help you pay your bills.
Sometimes referred to as the 'Bedroom tax', the under occupancy charge is a change to Housing Benefit which means you may well receive less money if you live in a property which has more rooms than you need. Reductions are applied depending on the age, amount of people living in the property and the number of bedrooms your home has.
Most benefits for working age people have been frozen for four years. This means that there will be no increase until 2020.
Housing benefit backdates for working age people will be reduced from six months to four weeks from 1st April 2016. The time limit will be taken from the date you ask for a backdate. Pension age people will still be able to apply for a three month backdate.
From the 1st of May 2016 no family premium will be included for new Housing Benefit claims or in existing Housing Benefit claims for children born after May 2016. This change will not affect you if you are getting Income Support, Income Related ESA, Income Based JSA or Guaranteed Pension Credit.
The total amount a family or couple can claim in benefits is reducing - for most this will be £20,000 a year; a reduction of £6,000. If this applies to you it could affect the amount of Housing Benefit you receive.
The total amount a single person can claim in benefits is also reducing. For most people, this will be £13,400 a year, a reduction of £4,600. If this applies to you it could affect the amount of Housing Benefit you receive.