Housing and Council Tax Benefit Changes April 2013
As part of the government’s Welfare Reform Bill, changes have been introduced from April 2013 that will affect Housing and Council Tax Benefit.
Under Occupancy Rules
This change introduces a size criteria calculation for people of working age who rent from a Registered Social Landlord (RSL) or Housing Association.
The eligible rent used in the calculation of Housing Benefit will be restricted where the claimant and their household are under-occupying the property.
The size criteria used is the same as that used in the calculation of benefit for claimants that fall under the Local Housing Allowance Scheme (LHA).
One bedroom is allowed 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 foster child or child whose main home is elsewhere)
- A carer (or group of carers) providing overnight care.
The maximum 4 bedroom and shared accommodation rates do not apply to RSL tenants.
The size criteria is used to identify claimants who are under-occupying their homes.
A last minute announcement by the Government has introduced two changes across both the private and social rented sectors. These relate to two specific groups and apply from the 1 April 2013:
- An additional room will be allowed for a foster child or children living with an approved foster carer
- Parents of armed forces personnel who are away from home on operations will continue to have them included when applying the size criteria.
Another separate announcement by the Government means that Local Authorities can allow an extra bedroom for children who are unable to share because of their severe disabilities.
If a claimant and their household are under-occupying their home they will see a:
- 14% reduction in their eligible rent for under occupation by one bedroom
- 25% reduction in their eligible rent for under occupation by two or more bedrooms
The following cases are not subject to a restriction:
The size criteria rules will not apply to shared ownership cases where the claimant part owns the property and part rents the property from a housing association.
The size criteria rules will not apply to cases where the claimant or partner, have reached the qualifying age for state pension credit.
Any claimant who is accepted as homeless under homelessness legislation of the Housing Act 1996 and placed in temporary accommodation by the local authority because they are homeless or to prevent homelessness.
Supported “exempt” accommodation
The size criteria rules will not apply where accommodation is provided by a Housing Association, a registered charity, or voluntary organisation where that body or a person acting on its behalf also provides the claimant with care, support or supervision. The type of support provided must be more than minimal.
The introduction of a Benefit Cap is being introduced in a phased approach. This change will affect residents of Newport from July 2013.
This change introduces a cap on the amount of benefit a household may receive so that these are in line with average weekly earnings (£500 per week for couple and lone parent households and £350 per week for single households).
There are some circumstances where a claimant will be exempt from the Benefit Cap.
If the claimant, or their partner, is entitled to Working Tax Credit, they will be exempt from the cap. Note: The claimant, or their partner, does not actually have to be in receipt of Working Tax Credit.
If the claimant or partner is not entitled to Working Tax Credit, they will be exempt from the benefit cap if someone in their household, including a child, is receiving Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance, Personal Independence Payment or Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit, the Support Component of Employment and Support Allowance, or are a war widow or war widower.
There will be a grace period of 39 weeks when the cap will not apply to people who have been in work for 52 weeks or more before they claim benefit.
Council Tax Reduction Scheme
The council tax reduction scheme has replaced council tax benefit from 1 April 2013 as part of the welfare benefit reforms. A last minute change by the Welsh Government has meant that most people have not been affected by the change to the new scheme.
Most people that were in receipt of council tax benefit moved onto the new scheme from 1 April 2013.
Newport City Council
Old Station Building
Telephone: (01633) 656 656