In April 2013 the government introduced some major changes to the UK benefit system which may have affected your benefit payments.
We want to make sure you are well informed about how you can reduce the impact of the changes and tell you about any help and support on offer.
Universal Credit is a monthly payment for working-age people who are on a low income or out of work. It replaces the following benefits:
What does it mean to me?
The biggest change is that you will receive one single monthly payment, including your housing cost. This means it’s your responsibility to pay your rent.
It is paid monthly, in arrears, direct to a bank account and must be managed online.
Universal Credit will not affect everybody straight away. The scheme is being gradually rolled out across the country. You can see whether Universal Credit is available in your area by checking your postcode on universalcreditinfo.net.
However, it is now being rolled out so that if you are making a new claim for one of the benefits listed above, you will instead be directed to make a claim for Universal Credit.
How do I prepare for Universal credit?
If you rent and have too many bedrooms for the size of your family you may lose up to 25% of your housing benefit.
Under the new government rules you're entitled to 1 bedroom for:
You're also allowed an extra room if:
Disabled children and couples may be eligible for their own room if:
The bedroom tax will apply if:
If you have 1 spare bedroom your housing benefit will be cut by 14% of the rent you pay every week. If you have 2 or more spare bedrooms you'll lose 25%.
Give me an example
If you get £70 per week in housing benefit - and have 1 spare bedroom - your benefit will be cut by 14%. This means you'll end up with £60.20.
Contact our money advice team
You can contact our money advice team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 01772 666446.
The government has set a limit on the amount of benefit people can receive so that you will never receive more in benefit than you would if you were in work. The cap applies to all people claiming benefits who are of working age but are not currently in work.
The government says that the average amount of benefit lost is around £83 a week. If the cap does apply to you then any extra benefit you receive above the cap will be taken from your Housing Benefit. When you move to Universal Credit it will be taken from that.
Who is exempt?
What is the cap?
The benefit cap levels for Greater London are:
The benefit cap levels for outside Greater London are:
Which benefits are included?
What can you do?
Once you have reached state pension age, you may be eligible to claim Pension Credit to top up your income.
Even if you are only entitled to a small amount of Pension Credit it is worth doing so as it can help you to access other benefits.
State pension age is increasing year on year. Use this calculator to find out whether you qualify for Pension Credit.
According to Age UK, about 4 million older people are entitled to Pension Credit, yet about 1 in 3 of those are still not claiming it. Make sure you are claiming all you are entitled by contacting our Money Advice Team by emailing email@example.com or calling 01772 666446
Changes to Housing Benefit
If you are of Pension Credit age, the way in which you claim your housing benefit is changing.
Housing Benefit is being abolished. When the Government introduces changes to Housing Benefit in 2017, you will need to be claiming Pension Credit to qualify for the new Housing Credit.
Need some advice or help?
There are plenty of support services available nearby that would be happy to assist you. Why not try popping into a branch of:
You could also try search on Google using key words relating to your query (for example: benefits advice).