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Changes to the Benefits Welfare system

This is a summary of the main changes introduced by the Welfare Reform Act 2012. More detailed information on this can be found at External Hyperlink

Find out how you are affected by some of these changes using our welfare reform calculator External Hyperlink

April 2013: New bedroom restrictions for social sector tenants

Restrictions in the amount of Housing Benefit now applies to council and housing association tenants living in houses larger than they need. A 14% reduction applies if you are are under-occupying by 1 bedroom and a 25% reduction if you are under occupying by 2 or more bedrooms. This only affects people of working age who receive help to pay their rent.

More information can be found on our Information for Working Age people page.

April 2013: Disability Living Allowance replaced

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) has been replaced by Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for people who are aged 16 to 64 on or after 8 April 2013 and is being introduced gradually to existing customers of DLA.  More information can be found on the Department for Work & Pensions website External Hyperlink.

July 2013: Benefit Cap introduced

A limit will be put on the total amount of benefit that most people aged 16 to 64 can get. More information can be found on our factsheet The Benefit Cap PDF (293 KB).

2015 onwards: Introduction of Universal Credit

Universal Credit is the new single benefit which will replace Housing Benefit, Income Support, income-based Job Seekers Allowance, income-based Employment and Support Allowance and Tax Credits. Claims will be made online and payment will normally be a single household payment, including the housing costs, paid monthly in arrears directly to the claimant.

Universal Credit is being phased in across the country, initially to single claimants claiming Job Seekers Allowance, with the Fareham area affected from the 28 March 2016. More information can be found on our Universal Credit page or the Department for Work & Pensions website External Hyperlink

April 2016: LHA rates for Housing Benefit

The Government has announced that the rates will be frozen for four years.  It is not yet known whether they will be frozen based on current 2015 levels or reset for April 2016 and frozen for four years.  This page will be updated as soon as legislation is passed.

April 2016:  Backdating of Housing Benefit

The Government has announced that for new claims received after the 1 April 2016 the maximum period of backdating will reduce from six months to four weeks.  This will only affect those of working age and is in line with the backdating rules for Universal Credit claims.

May 2016:  Family Premium in Housing Benefit

The Government has announced that the family premium (currently £17.45 per week) will no longer be included in the calculation of Housing Benefit for new claims received on or after the 1 May 2016. If you are currently in receipt of Housing Benefit and have a child for the first time on or after the 1 May 2016 you will also not have the family premium included in your Housing Benefit calculation.

Additionally, if you currently receive Housing Benefit and you stop having responsibility for any children or young people, then you will not have the family premium again if you later become responsible for such a person in the future.  For example, if a dependent child leaves your household to live with another parent for a period of time and is removed from your claim and they subsequently return to your household, you will not regain the family premium in the calculation of your Housing Benefit.

July 2016: Temporary absence from home

Previously you were able to be absent from your home for up to 13 weeks and your Housing Benefit was not affected.  From 28th July 2016 if you leave Great Britain for a period of more than 4 weeks, your Housing Benefit will cease on the day you depart.

We have produced this table to illustrate the differences that now exist between temporary absences within GB and outside of GB 

Circumstances of absence

Within Great Britain Outside Great Britain
A person detained on remand pending trial or sentence upon conviction or as a condition of bail to reside in a dwelling other than their home

52 weeks

4 weeks
A person in a hospital or similar institution as a patient 52 weeks 26 weeks
A person, their partner or dependent child undergoing medical treatment, medically approved convalescence in accommodation other than residential accommodation 52 weeks 26 weeks
A training course 52 weeks 4 weeks
A person who is absent and undertaking medically approved care of a person residing in GB or elsewhere 52 weeks 4 weeks
A person who is caring for child whose parent or guardian is temporarily absent from the home of that parent or guardian and receiving medically approved care or medical treatment 52 weeks 4 weeks
A person who is receiving medically approved care provided in accommodation other than residential accommodation 52 weeks 26 weeks
An eligible student 52 weeks 4 weeks
A person who is receiving care in residential accommodation and is not staying on a trial basis to ascertain if the accommodation suits his needs 52 weeks 4 weeks
A person who has left their home through fear of violence 52 weeks 26 weeks
A person who enters residential accommodation on a trial basis to ascertain if it meets their needs with the intention of returning home 52 weeks 4 weeks

A person who is absent from GB in connection with the death of their partner or a child for whom he or his partner is responsible, the persons close relative, a close relative of the persons partner or a close relative of a child or young person for whom the person or persons partner is responsible

13 weeks

4 weeks plus additional 4 weeks if the Decision Maker considers it unreasonable for the claimant to return home within the first 4 weeks

A member of Her Majesty's forces posted overseas

13 weeks 26 weeks

A mariner

13 weeks 26 weeks

Continental shelf worker

13 weeks 26 weeks

Any other temporary absence e.g. holiday

13 weeks 4 weeks

If you are intending to be away from your home for a period of time and you are unsure how this will affect your Housing Benefit, please contact us on 01329 824646 and speak to a member of the Benefits team who will advise yo

Autumn 2016: Revised Benefit Cap

A limit is currently put on the total amount of benefit that most people aged 16 to 64 can get.  The cap is currently set at £26,000 per year for couples and lone parents and £18,200 per year for single people without children.  From Autumn 2016 the cap is reducing to £384.62 a week (£20,000 a year) for couples with or without children and lone parents, and £257.69 a week (£13,400 a year) for single people without children.  There are some exemptions from being affected by the Benefit Cap which can be found on The benefit cap - Gov UK External Hyperlink

How you can find out more

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have various ways to help customers:

What you can do if you are affected by the benefit cap

There are various organisations you can contact to try to help you manage your reduction in income.  See Jobcentre Plus  External Hyperlinkto find ways of looking for work or increasing your hours of work.  Shelter External Hyperlink offer confidential housing, welfare benefits and debt advice.  The free national helpline is 0800 8004444, which is available Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm.

If you are a Fareham Council tenant and you are affected by the benefit cap you can contact your Housing Officer direct for further advice.  You can ring 01329 236100 and ask for Tenancy Services.



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