If you claim benefits – it is likely that you will be affected by the changes introduced by the government in April 2013. Please see more information on the changes below:

Removal of the spare room subsidy (the “Bedroom Tax”)

The first change is that the Government is changing the rules about how many bedrooms you are entitled to. If you claim Housing Benefit and have more bedrooms than you are entitled to, you will lose money. You can find out more about the new rules on the removal of the spare room subsidy (the “Bedroom Tax”) page.

Benefit Cap

The next change is the Benefit Cap. Benefits will be capped at:

  • £384.62 per week (£20,000 a year) if you’re in a couple, whether your children live with you or not;
  • £384.62 per week (£20,000 a year) if you’re single and your children live with you;
  • £257.69 per week (£13,400 a year) if you’re single and you don’t have children, or your children don’t live with you.

Any Housing Benefit you get will be included in that amount. If the total amount of benefit you get, including Housing Benefits, comes to more than the cap, your Housing Benefit will go down. You will have to make up the difference from your other income or benefits.

Universal Credit

Finally there is Universal Credit, where the Government will bring together a number of different benefits into a single payment.

All your money, including housing benefit, will be paid straight to you by Direct Payments so it will be your responsibility to manage your money and pay your rent.

When do the changes start?

The first changes to bedroom rules and benefit caps were introduced in April 2013.
Universal Credit for single applicants has now been rolled out to many areas. The second tranche – for all households who have a change of circumstances or new claim – is rolling out now. Of the Local Authority areas which bpha covers, changes are being made in Daventry from Autumn 2016 and other areas are currently awaiting their roll out dates from the DWP.

What do I need to do?

Don’t wait…make sure you take action now.

  • Find out if the new bedroom rules affect you – even if you are using all of your bedrooms you might still be considered to have more than you need under the new rules. Use this bedroom calculator or ask us.
  • Work out if you will be effected by the Benefit Cap. Use this benefit cap calculator to find out how you may be affected.

Will you still be able to manage? Make sure you get the right advice.

  • Can you cope without the money by making your other benefits go further?
  • Can you increase your income, for example by taking in a lodger or getting a job?
  • Could you move to a smaller house?

If your income is going to be cut because of the benefit cap, you should go to your local Jobcentre Plus. They can help with finding a job, which will not only increase your income, it may mean you can get extra in-work benefits

We may be able to offer assistance…

If these changes have left you struggling, there are many ways that we may be able to offer assistance.

Discretionary Housing Payments

The Local Council has a limited amount of money each year to help people who qualify for Housing Benefit (or Universal Credit, when it takes effect) but are having trouble paying their rent. Although the council will decide how much is paid, we can offer support and advice on how to complete a DHP application form. We can even arrange to do this in the comfort of your own home.

Please note you cannot rely on DHP payments so this should only be viewed as a short term solution. Our other options below may provide longer term solutions.

Room to Move Scheme

We can sometimes offer our tenants individual incentives to downsize. Please speak to your Housing Officer for more details.

Money Advice Service

Our Money Advisers can offer advice to all residents, shared owners and leaseholders. If you are having difficulty paying your rent or are having problems with debts, we can help you to prepare a Financial Statement – basically a list of your income and expenditure with an up-to-date list of creditors. Once this has been done we can negotiate payments to your priority (e.g. rent, council tax) and non-priority (e.g. credit cards, loans) creditors. We can also help to identify other benefits you might be entitled to, and give you tips on how to maximise your income.

Don’t wait…call us on 0330 100 0272, or email us.

Considered Mutual Exchange?

Would moving to a more suitable property, or another area, make things more affordable for you? bpha rental tenants may be able to exchange with other Housing Association or Local Authority tenants.

Find out more here.

Benefit changes for under 35’s

For those single people under 35 years old who have become tenants since April 2016, new rules have been proposed that they will only be eligible for reduced housing payments from 2018.

Read more on the Benefit Cap.