York Housing Association - 50 Years

Changes to Housing Benefit

HOUSING BENEFIT WILL BE REDUCED FOR WORKING AGE TENANTS WHO ARE CONSIDERED TO BE UNDEROCCUPYING THEIR HOMES

From 1 April 2013 tenants classed as being of ‘working age' who are considered to be ‘under-occupying' their homes will see a reduction in the amount of Housing Benefit that they receive.  If you have one spare bedroom then your benefit will be reduced by 14% while those claimants who have two spare bedrooms will lose 25% of benefit.  If you find that you fall into this group of people and would prefer to move home, please contact us on 01904 636061 and we may be able to offer you a priority transfer to a smaller sized property.

Single People

If you are a single person living in a 2 bedroom property your Housing Benefit entitlement will reduce.   Also if you are a single person, aged 35 or under, and living in a 1 bedroom property your benefit could reduce because you can only claim at the shared room rate.

Couples

A couple, sharing a 2 bedroom property would also be considered to be under-occupying.  There are some exceptions to this where specific situations arise.  If you think you have a need for 2 bedrooms, you must contact Housing Benefit as soon as possible to discuss this.

Single People or Couples with children

New rules are being introduced around the age at which it is acceptable for children to share rooms.  This may mean that many families may now find that they are considered to be under-occupying their homes.  The regulations expect that 

  • Children under 16 of same gender share a bedroom
  • Children under 10 regardless of gender will share a bedroom

So, if a family comprise of 2 adults and 2 girls under 16 and they occupy a 3 bedroom house, they will be under occupying by 1 bedroom. 

Or, if a family comprises of 1 adult and 3 children under 10 and they occupy a 3 bedroom property they will also be under occupying by 1 bedroom.

WHAT DO I NEED TO DO IF I WANT TO STAY IN MY CURRENT HOME?

If you are wishing to stay in your home after the changes, then we would encourage you to begin budgeting now, for the additional sum that you will have to pay. Please see the information below about accessing a bank account (if you don't already have one), and setting up Direct Debits or Standing Orders to make these payments.

INTRODUCING UNIVERSAL CREDIT

HOW WILL THE INTRODUCTION OF UNIVERSAL CREDIT AFFECT YOU?

The government is introducing Universal Credit for ‘working age' claimants as a single point of payment for all Welfare Benefits.  This will start from October 2013.  

If you receive Welfare Benefits there are two things that you need to consider before these changes take place.  And, we can provide help and support for our customers who are concerned about the changes to help you overcome these difficulties.

The first important change which will affect you is that claims for Housing Benefit will no longer be assessed and paid by the local authority.  Universal Credit will be administered nationally, by the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP).  They will assess existing, and new, welfare and housing benefit claims, making one total payment to people who are entitled to them.  Only in exceptional circumstances will housing benefit be paid direct to York Housing Association.

UNIVERSAL CREDIT WILL BE PAID DIRECTLY INTO YOUR BANK ACCOUNT

Under Universal Credit your benefit entitlements, including housing benefit will be paid directly into your bank account.  You will then need to make arrangements to budget for and pay your rent from the bank account to York Housing Association.  Payments can be made from your bank account by setting up a Direct Debit with the Association, which is then administered for you by the Association.  Or if you prefer, you can set up a Standing Order with the bank to pay your rent.  If you already have a bank account and would like to pay by Direct Debit or Standing Order, please let us know and we will forward the appropriate forms to you.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I DO NOT HAVE A BANK ACCOUNT?

If you do not already have a bank account, you will need to open one now in preparation for these changes.  Many banks and building society's offer ‘Basic Bank Accounts' for money to be paid in, and where you can only make withdrawals using a ‘cashcard' or by Direct Debit and Standing Order.  They do not usually have cheque books or ‘debit card' attached to them so you can only pay your Direct Debits or Standing Orders and make withdrawals if the money is in your account.  These are a useful accounts from which you can pay your rent and your other regular bills such as utilities, but you must make sure that you have money in the account to meet the outgoings otherwise you will be charged for this. 

We can give you some advice about how to go about opening a bank account, so please do not hesitate to get in touch with your Housing Officer or Housing Support Worker.

FOR MOST PEOPLE COMMUNICATION ABOUT UNIVERSAL CREDIT WILL BE ONLINE AND BY EMAIL ONLY

The majority of claims will have to be applied for ‘online' and because DWP will communicate with you electronically you will be required to have an email address for correspondence from them.  If you already have an email account that you have not already told us about, please could you let us know?

WHAT IF I DON'T HAVE AN EMAIL ACCOUNT OR THE INTERNET?

If you do not have access to the internet, please contact us or DWP for advice, or you may be able to access this, free of charge, through your local library.   Finding a way of accessing the internet may also be useful for you as a way to access and manage your banks accounts or to arrange lower priced gas and electricity contracts.

I AM HAVING DIFFICULTY UNDERSTANDING ALL THESE CHANGES

If you have not yet done so, please let us know if you need any help with this changeover and we will do what we can to help you, or point you in the direction of people that can help.  Please telephone us on 01904 636061.

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