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The government is making changes to the benefits system in the UK.  If you are currently under the age of 61 and receiving benefits, the changes may affect you.

Our team of trained welfare benefits experts is here to help you manage these changes. We've produced this guide, with contact details for who you can contact for advice, guidance and support.

While we make every effort to ensure the information below is correct, please be aware that it is subject to changes in government policy at any time. Please check all details with our welfare benefits team.

We've divided the guide into four sections:

  1. What are the changes?
  2. Benefit Cap
  3. Changes to Council Tax Benefit
  4. Personal Independent Payment (PIP)
  5. Universal Credit
  6. How can Peabody help?

1. What are the changes?

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is making changes to the housing benefit system as part of the government's 2012 Welfare Reform ActThese changes may affect how much housing benefit you receive.

From 1 April 2013, the DWP will allocate housing benefit according to the number of bedrooms it estimates you need, rather than the number of bedrooms your property has.

This "bedroom tax" – also known as Social Sector Size Criteria – will affect housing benefit claimants aged between 16 and 61 who live in a home with two bedrooms or more

The DWP has calculated that households need one bedroom for each:  

  • adult couple  
  • person aged 16 or over  
  • two children (under 16) of the same sex  
  • two children (under 10), regardless of their sex  
  • additional child  
  • carer providing overnight care who does not normally live in the property

If, according to these calculations, the DWP find you have one spare bedroom, your housing benefit will be reduced by 14%

If, according to these calculations, the DWP find you have two or more spare bedrooms, your housing benefit will be reduced by 25%.

If your housing benefit is reduced, you’ll need to pay your landlord the difference between your housing benefit and your rent from April 2013. 

How will this affect my tenancy with Peabody?
If you are affected by the new under occupation rules, your Housing Benefit will be reduced and you will need to make up the shortfall.  You will be contacted by both your council and by Peabody if this is the case.  

Please contact our welfare benefits team on 0800 022 4040 to discuss your options.
 
For more information please see the DWP's guidance to Bedroom Tax or call the Government’s information line: 0845 605 7064.

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2. Benefit Cap

There’s a limit on the total amount of benefit that most people aged 16 to 64 can get. This is called the benefit cap.

From 7 November 2016 the cap will reduce.

You may be affected by the benefit cap if your household income exceeds:

  • £442.31 per week if you’re in a couple, whether your children live with you or not
  • £442.31 per week if you’re single and your children live with you
  • £296.35 per week if you’re single and you don’t have children, or your children don’t live with you

You’re not affected by the cap if you or your partner work, and either of the following apply:

  • you or your partner are eligible for Working Tax Credit
  • you or your partner get Universal Credit, and your household income is more than £430 a month after tax and National Insurance

    Or if:

  • you or a member of your household is in receipt of Personal Independence Payments or Disability Living Allowance
  • you are in receipt of carers allowance

You can find out more information by visiting GOV.UK/benefit-cap or phone Peabody’s Welfare Benefits and Money Advice team on 020 3828 4085.

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3. Changes to council tax benefit

From April 2013, if you are of working age and claim council tax benefit, the amount you receive may be cut. This is because the government is reducing the amount of money available and asking local councils to run their own schemes, which may vary from area to area. 

Contact your local council for details.

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4. Personal Independent Payment (PIP)

Personal Independent Payment (PIP)
From April 2013, the government is replacing Disability Living Allowance (DLA) with Personal Independence Payments (PIP)  for eligible working age people aged 16 to 64.  

There will be regular reviews to make sure people are assessed on their current needs.  DLA has a "day" and a "night" element, but PIP is assessed across the entire day. 

It has two parts: Daily Living and Mobility – and each has two rates: Standard and Enhanced

If you receive either Daily Living Allowance rate, you are entitled to apply for Carers’ Allowance. You can find out more about the changes in the DWP guide to PIPs.

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5. Universal Credit

The government is introducing a new, single benefit payment, called Universal Credit. You can expect your benefit to be changed over to Universal Credit if you receive any of the following:

  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance 
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support 
  • Child Tax Credits 
  • Working Tax Credits 
  • Housing Benefit

Universal Credit, including housing benefit money, will be paid to most people directly. It is likely you’ll receive your benefit every month, rather than every two weeks, and the amount of benefit you currently receive may change, depending on your circumstances.  

If your money is reduced you may need to budget differently to ensure you have enough money to pay your bills. You’ll be encouraged to manage all details of your Universal Credit claim via the internet, using an online system, instead of using the telephone or visiting an office.

Why is this happening?
The government’s top priority is to reduce the budget deficit by cutting public spending.  Much of this burden will be borne by people who receive benefits. 

The government has also said the current system, with many different benefits and forms to complete, is too complicated and doesn’t encourage people to look for work. Instead, it wants to "simplify the benefits system by bringing together a range of working-age benefits into a single streamlined payment". 

In return for receiving Universal Credit, you will need to show you are looking for work. This may include preparing a CV, attending training courses, or registering with a recruitment agency. 

When will Universal Credit be introduced?
For new benefit claimants — from October 2013. If you are already receiving benefits, you can expect the changes to happen between October 2013 and October 2017. 

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6. How can Peabody help?

We realise the benefit changes are significant, and you may be concerned about how you will be affected. We have a range of services that can help you manage the change to Universal Credit and direct payments. 

Under Universal Credit you will be required to have a bank account in order to receive your benefits. If you don’t have a bank account, please contact our welfare benefits team to discuss your options.  

If you have a bank account, we recommend contacting your bank to set up a direct debit.

Budgeting and paying your rent
Our trained team of budgeting experts are available to help you with all aspects of managing your money and paying your rent.

Looking for work
Our Employment Service offers free advice and guidance to people looking for work or training opportunities in London.  

Getting online
Visit one of our Net Worx centres, where you can learn how to use computers and the internet and find out how to make digital technology work for you. 

Who can I contact for more information?
Peabody Direct
Peabody welfare benefits team
Citizens’ Advice Bureau 
Department for Work and Pensions