Welfare reform

The Government has introduced a number of changes to the benefits system. These may affect the payments you receive. Find out the most recent updates to a number of benefits below.

If you are not sure if you are eligible for these benefits or if the changes will affect you, you can visit the Entitled To, Citizens Advice Bureau or contact us.

If you want to find out how many benefits you are potentially entitled to, why not fill out our benefits calculator?

Benefits calculator

How we can help

If you think you may be affected by these changes please contact your income officer or call us on 0300 373 3000 and ask to speak to a welfare adviser.  You can also email the Welfare Advice team on WelfareAdvisors@NetworkHomes.org.uk

If you are affected, our employment service can assist you in to work which may help you manage the shortfall. Contact our Worksmart team on Worksmart@networkhomes.org.uk

Don’t wait if you think you may be affected!

  • Bedroom Tax

    The bedroom tax only applies to people of working age. If you have a spare bedroom, your Housing Benefit will be reduced by:

    • 14% of your rent if you have one spare bedroom
    • 25% of your rent if you have two or more spare bedrooms

    The following occupants are expected to share a bedroom:

    • An adult couple
    • 2 children under the age of 16 of the same sex
    • 2 children under the age of 10 (regardless of sex)

    The following can have their own bedroom:

    • A single adult over the age of 16
    • A child that would normally share a room but the shared bedrooms are already taken e.g. you have three children and two already share
    • Children who cant share because of a disability or medical condition
    • A non-resident carer for you or your partner (but only if they must stay overnight)

    One spare bedroom is allowed for:

    • An approved foster carer who is between placements but only for up to 52 weeks from the end of the last placement
    • A newly approved foster carer for up to 52 weeks from the date of approval if no child is placed with them during that time
    • Rooms used by students and members of the armed or reserve forces will not be counted as spare if they are away and intend to return home

    If you have a shortfall in your rent you could consider:

    • Downsizing or home-swapping to a different sized property
    • Applying to your council for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP)

    We might be able to help you downsize if you are affected by the bedroom tax. Please contact us on 0300 373 3000.

  • Benefit cap

    The Benefit Cap is the limit to the total amount of benefits that most people between 16 and 64 can receive.

    From 7 November, the weekly Benefit Cap was reduced for working age tenants, meaning some of you will receive fewer benefits to help pay your rent.

    Who is affected?

    If you live in London and are of working age:

    For a couple, with or without children, and single people with children, the cap will be reduced to £442.31.

    For single people without children, the cap will be reduced to £296.35.

    If you live in Hertford and other out of London properties and are of working age:

    For a couple, with or without children, and single people with children, the cap will be reduced to £384.62.

    For single people without children, the cap will be reduced to £257.69.

    Further caps for those who have not been capped before will start in January 2017.

    Benefits that are not included in the Benefit Cap

    You are not affected by the benefit cap if anyone in your household qualifies for Working Tax Credit or gets any of the following benefits:

    • Armed Forces Compensation Scheme
    • Armed Forces Independence Payment
    • Attendance Allowance
    • Carer’s Allowance
    • Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
    • Employment and Support Allowance (if you get the support component)
    • Guardian’s Allowance
    • Industrial Injuries Benefits (and equivalent payments as part of a War Disablement Pension or the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme)
    • Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
    • Universal Credit payments towards carer’s costs or for ‘limited capability for work and work-related activity’
    • War pensions
    • War Widow’s or War Widower’s Pension

    You can find out if the benefits cap affects you by using the Benefits Cap calculator.

  • Council Tax Support

    Council Tax Benefit has become Council Tax Support.

    If you are struggling to pay your Council Tax, please visit your local council’s website for more information about the support available to you.

  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA) changing to Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

    Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is ending for people who were born after 8 April 1948. You will receive a letter inviting you to apply for the new benefit Personal Independence Payment.

    Your DLA will continue if you were born on or before 8 April 1948.

  • Non-dependant deductions

    A non-dependant is someone who normally lives with you on a non-commercial basis such as an adult son, daughter, relative or friend.

    The amount of housing benefit and/or Council Tax Support that you receive is likely to reduce if you have a non-dependant person living in your home.

    Some housing benefit claimants may be exempt:

    • A person who is registered blind
    • A person who is receiving Attendance Allowance, or the care component of Personal Independence Payment

    Some non-dependants are exempt:

    • A person who is receiving Pension Credit
    • A person who is under 18
    • A person who is under 25 who is receiving Income Support or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
    • A person who is under 25 who is in the assessment phase of income related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
    • A prisoner
    • A student (only exempt from non-dependant deductions in housing Benefit, and only if the claimant and any partner are under 65. Non-dependant deductions will apply in the summer holiday if the student takes up paid work)
    • A person who has been in hospital for 52 weeks or more
  • Universal Credit

    The Government has begun to roll out Universal Credit for people of working age. This is a new single monthly payment combining benefits for people who are looking for work or on a low income.

    Universal Credit replaces:

    • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
    • Housing Benefit
    • Working Tax Credit
    • Child Tax Credit
    • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
    • Income Support

    Your benefits may end before your Universal Credit starts. You may be able to get an advance on your first Universal Credit payment if:

    • You have recently been receiving another benefit
    • You are in urgent financial need
  • Who can claim Universal Credit?

    The monthly payment covers everyone in a family who qualifies for support.

    This may be:

    • A person claiming for themselves alone
    • A person claiming for themselves and their child or children
    • A couple making a joint claim for themselves
    • A couple making a joint claim for themselves and their child or children
    • Children over 18 living with their parents or siblings can claim Universal Credit in their own right

    You must also satisfy certain financial conditions. Your entitlement will depend on both your income and savings. You cannot claim Universal Credit if your income or savings are above a certain limit.

    If you can’t manage the single monthly payment, you may be eligible for an Alternative Payment Arrangement. Your Universal Credit Agent (Job Centre Plus) will consider a number of factors to decide if you qualify.

  • How to apply and how Universal Credit is paid

    You can only apply for universal Credit online and it is only available in certain areas.

    Your payment will be paid directly to you and you will be in charge of budgeting your money and paying your rent. To receive Universal Credit you will need to set up a bank account.

    If you live with a partner and you both claim Universal Credit you will receive a single payment that covers you both.