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What's new in Housing Benefit and Council Tax support

Key changes

Universal Credit: Full Service started in Bedford from 3rd May 2017

Universal Credit is now replacing the following benefits for working age people in Bedford Borough. Universal Credit is paid as one single payment once a month;

  • Housing Benefit,
  • Employment Support Allowance (Income Related)
  • Jobseeker's Allowance (Income based)
  • Tax Credits (Child and Working elements)

If you live in Bedford Borough you will now normally have to claim Universal Credit instead of these benefits, unless you are:=

  • Of state pension age - see here for when this will happen for you at; or
  • You qualify for the Severe Disability Premium in the calculation of your other benefits – you generally get this only if:         
         - You are entitled to the Daily Living element of Personal Independence Payment or the Care component of Disability Living Allowance at the Middle or High level AND
         - You live alone AND 
         - Nobody gets either Carers Allowance or the Carer element of Universal Credit  for looking after you.
  • You have three, or more children living in your household (until 31st January 2019)
  • Or you live in “supported exemption accommodation”. This is generally a hostel or sheltered accommodation.

If you are already claiming Housing Benefit, you will remain on that benefit until your circumstances change, but if you are making a new claim, you will now have to claim Universal Credit.

Universal Credit includes a housing allowance which replaces Housing Benefit so we can no longer accept claims for Housing Benefit unless you fall into one of the categories above, or you live in “supported exemption accommodation”. This is generally a hostel or sheltered accommodation.

Previous changes to welfare benefits

There have been a number of changes to welfare benefits in recent years as part of the Government's Welfare Reform programme. 

The main changes are summarised on this page.

Introduction of the size criteria in social housing (known as the 'Bedroom Tax')

From April 2013 the Council must work out whether someone living in social housing and claiming Housing Benefit has more bedrooms than their household needs. This is similar to the way Housing Benefit is worked out for people living in privately rented property.

Under the new rules one bedroom will be allowed for each of the following:

  • Every adult couple (married or unmarried)
  • Any other adult aged 16 or over
  • Any two children of the same sex aged under 16
  • Any two children aged under 10
  • Any other child (other than a foster child or a child whose main home is elsewhere)
  • A carer or team of carers, who does not live with the customer, but provides overnight care for them or their partner.

If a household has more bedrooms than they need the rent used to calculate your Housing Benefit entitlement will be reduced by:

  • 14% - if you have 1 extra bedroom or
  • 25% - if you have 2 or more extra bedrooms

The following customers are not affected:

  • Shared ownership tenants
  • Customers who have reached the qualifying age for state pension credit
  • Tenants in temporary accommodation (placed though Housing Options)
  • Tenants in supported exempt accommodation, where care support and/or supervision is provided by your landlord as part of your conditions to stay.

Disabled persons are not automatically excluded from the Size Criteria.

Foster carers are not exempt, as under the current rules, both the presence of the children being fostered and the income for their care are disregarded for Housing Benefit purposes.

If you believe you are in one of these groups but have been advised your Housing Benefit is restricted due to the number of bedrooms please contact Customer Services (01234 718097).

If you have difficulty paying your rent because your Housing Benefit is restricted you may be able to apply for extra help through a Discretionary Housing Payment.

Changes to the Social Fund

The Social Fund was abolished on 31 March 2013. The Council is now able to offer crisis grants or home in the community grants but only under certain circumstances.

The Benefit Cap 

The Benefit Cap restricts a person's total income from benefits to £384 per week for a couple or family. If you are entitled to Working Tax Credit you are exempt from the cap.

The cap only applies to working age people who are not in work. All income from out of work benefits such as Jobseeker’s Allowance, Child Tax Credit, Child Benefit and Housing Benefit is added up to work out the person's income. If the total is more than the capped amount they are entitled to, their Housing Benefit is reduced so that the amount they receive is the maximum capped amount.

The Department for Work and Pensions tells the Council which claims must be capped.

Personal Independence Payments replacing Disability Living Allowance

From 8 April 2013 Personal Independence Payments (PIP) replaced Disability Living Allowance for people aged 16 to 64 with a health condition or disability.

PIP helps with some of the additional costs caused by ill-health or disability.  You may need an assessment to work out the level of PIP you will get.  PIP is not based on your condition but on how your condition affects you.

As with Disability Living Allowance, PIP is disregarded for the purpose of Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support.  o find out more about PIP and how it may affect you go to: