Welfare reform

Did you know the Government is planning some major changes which could affect your benefits? Some changes are already in place. If you’re not sure how this affects you, contact your Estates Officer or our Money Advice Service on 01563 528816.

Key changes

The Bedroom Tax

In April 2013, Housing Benefit changed to only allow payments for one bedroom for each person or couple. This means if you have a spare bedroom, you will be regarded as ‘under occupying’ your property and Housing Benefit will no longer pay for the additional room – you will have to make up the shortfall from your own income.

Who is affected?

The Bedroom Tax only applies to people of working age. Housing Benefit rules state:

  • one bedroom is allowed for each adult or couple living as part of a household
  • a child under the age of 16 is expected to share with another child of the same gender,
    while children under 10 are expected to share with another child regardless of gender
  • a bedroom for a non-resident carer is allowed, where they provide overnight care to a
    person with a disability

What will happen?

If your home is under occupied, your benefits will be reduced and you will receive less money. Under the new rules:

  • if you have one spare bedroom you will lose 14p in every pound of your eligible rent
  • if you have two or more spare rooms you will lose a quarter of your eligible rent
  • this means your Housing Benefit will be reduced by 14% or 25%

Universal Credit

From October 2013, new claimants of working age will receive a single payment for all benefits, including Housing Benefit, called Universal Credit. The new system is intended to simplify the way benefits are paid and the majority of claims will be made online.

Another significant change will be how Universal Credit is paid.

  • At the moment, Housing Benefit can be paid either to the tenant or, in most cases,
    directly to the landlord.
  • This is going to change so that payments will only be made directly to tenants.
  • Although there will be some exceptions for vulnerable people, it is essential that all tenants
    have a way of paying their rent as soon as they receive their payment.

If you are worried about how these changes will affect you,
telephone us on 01563 528 816 or email info@atrium-homes.co.uk

Housing Benefit

Until the introduction of Universal Credit which will assist with housing costs, tenants can still claim Housing Benefit. Housing Benefit is a state benefit available to any tenant on a low income, whether they are in receipt of other benefits or working. If you are on a low income, you may be entitled to Housing Benefit to help you pay some or all of your rent. Housing Benefit is administered locally by East Ayrshire Council and you can obtain forms from any Council Housing Office as well as from Atrium’s office.

For more information and an application form, contact your Estates Officer on 01563 528816.

Things to note…

  • Many people who are entitled to Housing Benefit do not realise it. If in doubt apply. You will be asked to complete the necessary forms and supply supporting information to allow your claim to be processed.
  • Any delay in applying for Housing Benefit may mean a loss of benefit and result in rent arrears. Backdates of entitlement can be difficult to obtain.
  • We prefer that Housing Benefit is paid directly to us. We can tell you quickly if it hasn’t been paid to allow you to address your claim with the Council.
  • If you receive Housing Benefit, it is essential you tell your Estates Officer and East Ayrshire Council immediately about any change in your circumstances (e.g. a rise or cut in your income) which may affect the amount of benefit you are entitled to receive.
  • Even if you are on Income Support, you need to fill in a Housing Benefit form. You should get the maximum amount of Housing Benefit unless you have other adults living with you.