The Welfare Reform Act became law on 8 March 2012. The Act contains some of the biggest changes to welfare benefits for over 60 years.
This section provides you with all the information you need to know to understand how the changes may affect you.
The main changes include:
- Non Dependant Deductions
- Under Occupation
- Benefit Cap
- Universal Credit
- Direct payments of Housing Benefit
Please note the following changes do not affect people of pension age, however there are changes to the national pension age. The National Housing Federation has produced this useful leaflet: Changes to Housing Benefit
What can you do?
It's important to get the right information and advice so you can work out how to cover the shortfall.
Get a bank account
Your benefit payments will be paid monthly to you and not to Gateway. It's important that you have a bank account as having an account will help you to manage your money, set up monthly Direct Debits and take the worry out of budgeting.
Set up a Direct Debit
The best way to ensure your rent is paid on time is to set up a Direct Debit. This will ensure money is paid directly to Gateway on a date that's convenient to you.
What's Gateway doing to help?
To support you through these changes Gateway is:
- Training our staff so that they can offer you advice
- Contacting people who will be affected directly so that we can offer advice and support
- Signposting people to agencies who will be able to help
- Visiting those who are affected by the benefit cap and bedroom tax to offer support
- Working with appropriate agencies to ensure you have access to the best possible support
- Encouraging payment of rent via Direct Debit and
- Providing support to help people find work
If you've at least one spare bedroom then Housing Benefit will be restricted to only allow payments for one bedroom for each person or couple. If you've a spare bedroom you're regarded as ‘under occupying’ the property and Housing Benefit will no longer pay for the additional room. This means you'll have to make up the shortfall from your own income.
The Government has put a cap on the total amount of benefits that a single person or couple is entitled to. People of ‘working age’ will be subject to this benefit cap. This means the amount of benefits they receive is limited to £500 per week for couples and single parent households. This is limited to £350 per week for single adults.
From October 2013, new claimants of working age will receive a single payment for all benefits, including their Housing Benefit payment.
Another significant change is how Universal Credit is paid. Before, Housing Benefit could be paid either to the tenant or, in most cases, directly to the landlord. This has changed so that payments will be made to tenants.
Although there may be some exceptions for vulnerable people, it's essential all tenants have a way of paying their rent as soon as they receive their payment.
If you're worried about how these changes will affect you, or if you need further information then contact your housing officer.
For more information please visit Department for Work and Pensions - Welfare Reform web pages.