Welfare Reform information

Housing Benefit changes – this may affect you!

Benefit Cap 

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The Welfare Reform and Work Act (2016) introduced some changes to the benefit cap. These changes, which took effect in autumn 2016, include changes to the benefit cap levels to £23,000 a year for couples with or without children and lone parents and £15,410 for single people without children in Greater London, and £20,000 and £13,400 respectively for those groups elsewhere in Great Britain. They also include 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

Universal Credit

2015 saw the biggest shakeup of benefits ever to be rolled out across the country.

In Cornwall this is only currently affecting single working age people without dependents or illness who make a new claim for benefits. Instead of claiming Job seekers allowance they will make a claim for Universal credit.

To find out if you will be affected please go to the ‘entitledto’ website for more information.

In time more and more working age claimants will move onto Universal Credit. There may be some changes you need to make to ensure you are ready.

More people in Cornwall will be asked to claim Universal Credit (UC) from autumn 2017.

Universal Credit is a single monthly payment for people in or out of work. It will replace some of the benefits and tax credits that you might be getting now.

Are you Universal Credit ready?

  • Can you make and manage a claim online?
  • Have you got a bank account?
  • Can you manage being paid all your benefits in one lump sum monthly in arrears? (This will include any housing benefit you receive that is normally paid direct to your landlord. You will be responsible for paying your rent yourself)

Universal Credit in Cornwall

Different Job Centres in the region are starting full service at different times:

  • Bude, Launceston, Liskeard - December 2017
  • Truro, Bodmin, Newquay, St Austell - May 2018
  • Helston, Penzance, Redruth, Penryn - June 2018
  • Cornwall areas that come under Devonport Job centre such as Torpoint and Saltash are now likely to be affected in January 2018

Waiting for your payments

You may have to wait a period of time for your first payment. It is important that you are prepared and can continue to pay your priority bills while you wait. All Universal Credit payments will be paid one month in arrears.

How do I apply?

Before applying please visit the Universal Credit pages on the gov.uk website. Here, you can find out:

  • if you are eligible
  • how much you can expect to receive and
  • how it is paid

Apply for Universal Credit online

What happens next?

You must phone the Universal Credit Service Centre within seven days of applying online to book your initial Evidence and Claimant Commitment interview. If you do not, your claim will be cancelled.

At your appointment:

  • Tell the advisor that you are a Council tenant and you have rent to pay
  • Tell your advisor if you have financial difficulties, including any rent arrears
  • Make it clear if you have any issues or disabilities that may affect your ability to meet your claimant commitment
  • If you cannot afford to wait for your first payment, you can ask for an Advanced Payment. This will come out of your Universal Credit payments over the next 12 months

If you claim Housing Benefit

Under Universal Credit an amount for housing costs will be included in the Universal Credit payment you receive. This means that you will be responsible for paying your rent out of your Universal Credit payment.

Get support if you need it:

Download our handy guide of the 5 key things to remember

If you are a Council tenant, please use the contact details on this page to speak to us or send a private message through our Facebook Page.

For more information and support, contact us on 0300 1234 161 and ask for an Inclusion Advisor or contact the Money Advice Service.

Agony Aunt web page

Our Welfare Reform Agony Aunt page offers help to our tenants and customers with their welfare reform related issues.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have published several videos and information for help and information on Universal Credit.

Discretionary Housing Payments

The DWP has produced a factsheet for claimants of Housing Benefit explaining what Discretionary Housing Payments are and how to claim.

Other benefit changes

There are a number of other benefits changes currently being reviewed by the government including (CUT: a reduced benefit cap) changes to tax credits and proposed changes to housing benefit for 18-21 year olds. We will update our web site with these changes as they are confirmed.