Colour Switcher:

Font Resizer:

Benefit Information

From April 2013, Housing Benefit is restricted to only allow payments for one bedroom for each person or couple. If you have a spare bedroom you are regarded as “under-occupying” the property and Housing Benefit no longer pays for the additional room.

You have to make up the shortfall from your own income.

Who is affected?

All claims where neither the claimant or their partner are over state Pension Credit age. By 2013 the Pension Credit age will be 61 for women and 65 for men and women.

Use our bedroom tax calculator to see if you will be affected.

Are there any exceptions?

Housing Benefit rules allow:
  • One bedroom for each adult or couple living as part of the 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.
  • Severely disabled children may be entitled to their own bedroom if they cannot share with another child.
  • A bedroom for a carer is allowed where they provide over-night care to a person with disabilities.

Exceptions are NOT to be made for the following:

  • Separated parents who share the care of their children.
  • Couples who use their “spare” bedroom when recovering from an illness or operation.
  • Foster children (as they are not counted as part of the household for benefit purposes).
  • Parents whose children visit but are not part of the household.
  • Families with disabled children.
  • Disabled people including people living in adapted or specially designed properties.

How much will I lose?
The cut is a fixed percentage of the Housing Benefit eligible rent.

  • 14% cut for one extra bedroom and a 25% cut for two or more extra bedrooms.
  • The average payment for 1 bedroom extra will be £12.99, for 2 bedrooms extra the average payment will be £23.12

If you think this will apply to you please contact the Income Team. NCHA will contact all of our tenants who we know are under-occupying. We will discuss with you what the options are and help you to decide what to do.

Your options are to:

  • Stay and pay the rent due
  • Move home
  • Take in a lodger - click here for further information
  • Increase your income by working extra hours or getting a job -

The Welfare Reform and Work Act (2016) has introduced further changes to the benefit cap.

From autumn 2016 benefit cap levels will be set at:
- £20,000 a year for couples with or without children and lone parents (excluding those in Greater London)
- £13,400 for single people without children (excluding those in Greater London)

This amount also includes additional exemptions for recipients of Guardian’s Allowance, Carer’s Allowance and Universal Credit claimants who receive payments towards carer’s costs.

For more information about the benefit cap changes please visit www.Gov.UK/benefit-cap  

If you want to check if you will be affected contact your Income Officer.

Changes to benefits and the way they are being paid, continue to roll out across the country.

Additional changes were announced in the government’s Summer Budget 2015. These include:

Changes to Housing Benefit

  • From April 2016, reduction to Housing Benefit backdating periods will be reduced from six months to four weeks.
  • Benefit Cap to be reduced from £23,000 per year to £20,000 (outside of London)

Changes to Tax Credit

  • The income threshold reduced from April 2016
  • The income taper increased from April 2016
  • No extra Child Tax Credit for children born on or after April 2017, where the award already included two children
  • No ‘family element’ for new claims for Child Tax Credit on or after April 2017

Freeze on benefits rates

  • Most benefits will see no cost of living increase for four years

Changes to Universal Credit

  • Reduction in Universal Credit ‘work allowances’ from April 2016
  • New Universal Credit claims limited to two children from April 2017, regardless of when children were born
  • Claimants aged 18-21 are not automatically entitled to a Housing Costs Element from April 2017.

If you are concerned about how any of these changes may affect you, or are concerned about your ability to pay your rent, please contact your Income Officer

The StepChange Debt Charity have a useful online benefits checker which has been updated with all the latest changes to the UK benefit system. Click here to see how you are affected.


Local Authorities are considering how they are going to reduce Council Tax Benefit paid to working age tenants. It is very likely that that tenants who currently get full Council Tax Benefit will have to pay something from April 2013.

The list below is the latest information we have about Council Tax Benefit reductions in the Local Authority areas where NCHA has homes. 

Local Authority     Council Tax Reduction 2015/16 
Amber Valley 8.5%
Bassetlaw 8%
Broxtowe NIL
Charnwood  15%
Derby City 20%
Derbyshire Dales 8.5%
Erewash 8.5%
Gedling NIL
Hinckley & Bosworth  15%
Kettering 25%
Leicester 20%
Mansfield 10%
Melton     12%
Newark & Sherwood 20%
Northampton 21%
North Kesteven 10%
Nottingham City 20-25%
North West Leics. 15% 
Oadby & Wigston 8.5%
Rushcliffe 8.5%
Rutland 25%
South Derbyshire 10%
South Kesteven 20%

Changes from April 2019: The Government is making changes to Housing Benefit from April 2019. The changes will affect people who signed a new tenancy – or renewed an existing one – from 1 April 2016 onwards.

What is changing?
The Government has decided that people who rent homes from housing associations and councils should be paid Housing Benefit under the same rules that apply to people renting from private landlords. It is possible that these changes could mean a reduction in the amount of Housing Benefit you receive.

They are introducing a cap on the amount of Housing Benefit that can be paid. The cap is being set at the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rate, which is calculated based on the number of people in your household, and the rents and services charges in the area in which you live. The rule applies to tenants of working age, as well as those in receipt of the state pension.

You can check what the LHA rate for your area is on the Directgov website: http://lha-direct.voa.gov.uk/Search.aspx  

Here are some examples of the LHA rates in areas where NCHA has homes:

    1 bed    2 bed    3 bed    4 bed 
Leicester    £86.54   £109.62   £126.92   £161.54 
Nottingham   £91.15   £107.19    £119.10    £150.00 
Northampton   £99.06   £125.06    £138.46   £185.29 
 
Will I be affected?
The changes do not take effect until April 2019, but you may be affected then if you have started a new tenancy (or renewed an existing one) since 1 April 2016.

In most areas, NCHA’s average rent (including services charges) is currently less than the LHA. This means that many tenants will not be directly affected by the changes.

However, some tenants will find that the amount they receive in Housing Benefit is less than the amount they have to pay out in rent and service charges. This means they will have to make arrangements to pay the difference.

We cannot yet say for certain how many people are going to be affected. A lot could change before April 2019 – service charges and the LHA cap could go up or down in this time. We do know that your rent will be reduced by 1% each year until March 2019.

Keeping you informed
NCHA will be monitoring the situation and will let you know nearer to April 2019 if we think your Housing Benefit will be reduced. If it is reduced, you will have to pay the shortfall from your benefits or other income.

The Bedroom Tax
The Bedroom Tax, officially known as the Spare Room Subsidy, still applies. If you are already paying the Spare Room Subsidy, you could also be affected by the LHA cap. If you live in a property where your rent is higher than the LHA cap for the area it is in, you will need to pay the difference.

ACTION!
If you think you might be affected by the LHA cap, there are things you can do to prepare:

  • Have a look at your budget and see if you would be able to afford paying any shortfall in your rent
  • Pay more rent between now and April 2019 to get your rent account in credit
  • If you are of working age, get a job so you are not dependent on benefits for all of your income

What happens next NCHA will keep in touch with tenants about their rent accounts. We will contact anyone who is likely to be affected before the Government’s changes to Housing Benefit take effect in April 2019. Please keep us informed if your circumstances change.

Information leaflet: Benefit changes - Changes to Housing Benefit from April 2019

Non-dependants are any adult family members over 18 for whom you do not receive child benefit. For example, adult sons, daughters and parents count as non-dependants.
 
They can also be friends who live with you but do not pay you rent. If you think this may affect you, please check with the Income Team.
 
If you have a non-dependent living with you, your Housing Benefit will be reduced by the amounts shown below. (Note working hours should be 16 hours a week or more)

You will NOT be affected if you are in receipt of Disability Living Allowance with a Care Component.

Dependent's circumstances    

Amount of
deduction
2013-2014 
Amount of 
deduction
2015-2016
 
Aged under 25 and receiving Income Support, JSA(IB),
or Assessment phase ESA(IR)
NIL NIL
Receiving Pension Credit NIL NIL
Aged 25 or over and receiving Income Support / JSA(IB) / ESA(IR)   £14.15 £14.55
Aged 18 or over and receiving main phase ESA(IR) £14.15 £14.55
Aged 18 or over and not in remunerative work
(an average of 16 hours or more each week)
£14.15  £14.55
Aged 18 or over and in remunerative work:
    - gross weekly income less than £129.00
    - gross weekly income £129.00 - £188.99
    - gross weekly income £189.00 - £245.99
    - gross weekly income £246.00 - £327.99
    - gross weekly income £328.00 - £407.99
    - gross weekly income £408.00 or more

£14.15
£32.45
£44.55
£72.95
£83.05
£91.15
 
£14.55
£33.40
£45.85
£75.05
£85.45
£93.80

JSA (IB) – income-based jobseeker’s allowance
ESA(IR) – income-related employment and support allowance
Assessment phase – the first 13 weeks of ESA

Where overpayment of Housing Benefit has arisen the basic maximum rate of recovery from continuing HB is increasing from £10.95 to £11.10 from April 2015. Where the overpayment has arisen as a result of fraud the basic maximum rate goes up from £18.25 to £18.50 per week.

Changes to Housing Benefit for people under 35

Will I be affected?
Your Housing Benefit will be reduced from April 2018 if you are single, aged under 35, and you became a tenant after April 2016.

If you are a single person between the ages of 18 and 21, from April 2017 you won’t have an automatic right to claim Housing Benefit, nor to the housing cost element of Universal Credit.

There are a few exemptions to these new rules. For example, if you have been working and not claimed Housing Benefit in the last year, or if you have a severe disability. Please talk to your Income Officer if you think you ought to be exempt, so that we can check for you.

Why is this happening?
The Government has decided that people who are under 35 and single should only be given enough Housing Benefit to rent a room in a shared house – this is called the Shared Room Rate. Single people aged 18-21 will no longer have an automatic right to receive Housing Benefit.

The Shared Room Rate
If you are put on the Shared Room Rate (SRR), the maximum amount of Housing Benefit you can get is the amount that it costs to rent a single room in a shared house. The rate is set by local councils, and so will vary from area to area.

If you choose to rent a flat or house rather than a single room in a shared house, you will have to pay the extra rent that your SSR does not cover.

For example, in Leicester, the SRR is £60, but the average cost to rent a one bedroom flat is £92. This means that a person who receives SRR would have to find an additional £32 each week to cover the cost of their rent – or consider moving into a room in a shared house.

ACTION!
If you’re aged 18 to 21,
be aware that unless you qualify for an exemption, you will not get any help to pay your rent when you claim Universal Credit. The Government expects people in this age group who cannot afford to rent a home on their own to live with their parents.

If you are aged 21 to 35, you may not be able to afford your rent if your only income is from benefits. NCHA will only offer tenancies to people who can afford to pay. Your options are:
  • Get a job, so that you are not dependent on benefits for all your income
  • Pay more rent between now and April 2018, to get your rent account in credit. This will give you some breathing space when the new rules take effect.
  • Rent a room in a shared house. Most rooms in shared houses are rented through private landlords.

What happens next
NCHA will keep in touch with tenants about their rent accounts. We will contact anyone who is still single and claiming benefits before the Government’s changes to Housing Benefit take effect in April 2018. Please keep us informed if your circumstances change.

For more help and advice call 0800 013 8555 

Information leaflet: Benefit changes - Changes to Housing Benefit for people under 35

Take a look at our Universal Credit guide here.

You can also take a look at our Claiming Universal Credit fact sheet here.

Or watch a video on how to apply for Universal Credit on You Tube by clicking this link (opens in a new window).

UPDATE Oct 2017: Download our new Universal Credit workbook. To request your own copy in the post, email us on info@ncha.org.uk or call 0800 013 8555 / 0115 844 3150