Welfare Support & Advice


Welfare Reform: The benefits system

Since April 2013, if you receive benefits you may have been affected by one or more of the following changes.

Under Occupancy (Bedroom Tax)

If your home is bigger (has more bedrooms) than your family needs, your housing benefit is reduced by 14% for one ‘spare’ bedroom and 25% for two or more ‘spare’ bedrooms.

If you receive housing benefit, you are entitled to one bedroom for:

  1. Every adult couple (married or unmarried)
  2. Any 2 children under 10 years old (includes foster children)
  3. Any 2 children of the same sex/gender under 16 years old (includes foster children)
  4. A carer who provides overnight care to you or your partner
  5. A single child

Any other bedrooms in your home will be considered surplus to your requirements, and your housing benefit will be reduced accordingly. This housing benefit reform only affects working age tenants. Tenants in receipt of Pension Credit will not be affected by this change.

The Benefit Cap

There is a cap on the total amount of ‘income based’ benefit that you can get. The amount of total benefit you can receive will be limited to:

  • £384.62 per week (£1,666 per month) for a couple, with or without children, and lone parents.
  • £257.69 per week (£1,116 per month) for single adults

Housing Benefit or Universal Credit will be reduced by the Cap unless you qualify for Working Tax Credits or Personal Independence Payments.

Discretionary Housing Payments

Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) from Leeds City Council help tenants affected by the under-occupation sanctions or ‘bedroom-tax’, and the Benefit Cap. Priority will be given to the following people:

  • Older people approaching pension age where work is not a realistic option
  • Disabled people living in properties with significant adaptations to meet their disabled needs
  • Single people who need an extra room to support child access arrangements
  • Families expecting a first child where housing allocation has been made on this basis
  • Losing more than £50 of Housing Benefit per week due to the Benefit Cap
  • Other exceptional circumstances (for example for sleeping or care arrangements for a disabled child)

If you believe you fall into one of the groups of people listed above contact Unity on 0113 200 7700 as soon as possible. We can help you to apply for a discretionary payment which may pay for a room that is considered to be under occupied. You can apply for this yourself here.

Please also contact us if you need a bedroom for a carer who does not live with you, but stays regularly overnight to care for you or your partner. This also applies if you and your partner, or your children, can’t share a room due to a disability.

Please also contact us if you have a bedroom that a student studying away from home uses in the holidays. In these circumstances you may not have to pay for the spare bedroom.

Leeds City Council expects applications for discretionary housing payments to be supported by Unity. We will have to show that alternative housing options are not available or suitable.

Universal Credit

Visit our Universal Credit page for more information.

Council Tax Support

People who previously claimed Council Tax Benefit should now claim Council Tax Support from Leeds City Council. However, Council Tax Support for working age people has been reduced (with some exceptions – see below), even if they were previously entitled to full Council Tax Benefit. This means many people will have to pay some Council Tax when they did not before.

These people are not affected and continue to be eligible for up to 100% council tax support.

  • Pensioners (including disablement pensions)
  • Lone parents of children under the age of five
  • Households who get the Severe or Enhanced Disability Premium
  • Carers
  • War Widows

If you believe you fall into one of the groups of people listed above tell Leeds City Council as soon as possible.

Council Tax Support is NOT claimed for or covered by Universal Credit

For more information, click here.

Free School Meals

Free school meals continue to be administered by Leeds City Council through Housing Benefit offices.