Welfare Support & Advice

Welfare Reform: Changes to the benefits system

As of April 2013, if you receive benefits you may be 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 will be reduced by 14% for one ‘spare’ bedroom and 25% for two or more ‘spare’ bedrooms.

From April 2013, if you receive housing benefit, you be 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.

Discretionary Housing Payments

The Government has announced increased funding for the Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) fund to help tenants affected by the under-occupation sanctions or ‘bedroom-tax’ 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
  • 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 7753 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.

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.

Please also contact us if you have a bedroom that a student studying away from home uses in the holidays. In both of 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.

The Benefit Cap

There will be 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:

  • £500 per week (£2166 per month) for a couple, with or without children, and lone parents.
  • £350 per week (£1516 per month) for single adults

Universal Credit

Universal Credit will bring together a number of benefits into one benefit payment. The benefits to be cancelled and replaced include:

  • Income support
  • Income-related job seeker’s allowance
  • Income- related employment support allowance
  • Housing benefit
  • Working tax credit
  • Child tax credit

It is not yet known when Universal Credit will be introduced in Leeds.

Direct Payments

Part of the change to Universal Credit includes direct payments. Universal credit will be:

  • One payment
  • Paid once per month
  • Paid directly to you
  • Paid into your bank, building society or credit union account

Council Tax Support

People who previously claimed Council Tax Benefit, will be able to claim Council Tax Support. However, Council Tax Support for working age people will be reduced by 26% (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.