Benefit changes 2017 and other welfare reform changes

Find out more about how housing benefit and Department of Work and Pensions changes (DWP) will affect you.

Housing benefit for 18 to 21 year olds

Single, unemployed 18 to 21-year-olds making new Universal Credit claims in Universal Credit digital service areas are no longer entitled to help with housing costs unless they fall into one of the exempt groups. These include if they:

  • Have dependent children
  • Are exempt from the shared accommodation rate of Local Housing Allowance
  • Are unable to live with their parents
  • Have been working for more than 16 hours a week for the previous six months
  • Already claim Universal Credit

This change came into effect on 1 April, 2017.

How this affects you if you live in Rushmoor

Rushmoor will not become a universal digital service area until July 2018. 

If you live in supported housing, these changes won't affect you until 2019.

Limiting benefit payable to two children

This affects housing benefit, child tax credit and Universal Credit.

Housing benefit

If you have more than two children, the way we will build your benefit claim will only include an allowance for two children unless HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have granted you an exemption.

If you already receive housing benefit and a new child became part of your family on or after 6 April 2017, and that child is not included in your child tax credit assessment, your housing benefit claim will not include an allowance for that child.

For all cases where your third child or subsequent child is included in the tax credit assessment, we will need to see the child tax credit award notice that shows the assessment is counting more than two children.

We will include all children and adults in the household when we work out the number of rooms you need and the appropriate Local Housing Allowance rate

Universal Credit

Because of changes to the Universal Credit system, new claimants with more than two dependent children are not able to claim Universal Credit, unless they have received Universal Credit within the previous six months. They must apply for housing benefit instead. 

This change came into effect from 6 April 2017,

Bedroom size criteria for housing benefit

There have been changes to the number of bedrooms allowed when we calculate housing benefit for properties rented privately and in the social housing sector. These changes apply where:

  • A non-resident carer/carers provide overnight care to a disabled child or disabled non-dependant
  • Couples are unable to share a bedroom because of their disabilities

Qualifying criteria

The disabled child/non-dependant must need regular overnight care that an overnight carer/carers provide and:

  • Care has been organised
  • A spare bedroom is available for the carer/carers. This must not be a bedroom already identified as an additional bedroom for an overnight carer for someone else in the household

In addition, the child or non-dependant must receive Disability Living Allowance (DLA) care at the middle or high rate, Personal Independence Payment (PIP) daily living component, Attendance Allowance (AA) or the Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP).

Couples unable to share a bedroom because of disabilities must have at least one member of the couple unable to share a bedroom reasonably with the other due to his/her disability, and:

  • One member of that couple must be receiving Disability Living Allowance Care (DLA) at the middle or high rate, Personal Independence Payment (PIP) daily living component, Attendance Allowance (AA) or the Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP) 

Employment and Support Allowance

If you were claiming the work-related activity group element of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), before April 2017, you get an additional payment.

From April 2017, new claimants who are placed in this group do not get the additional payment.

The rate of benefit will be the rate same as Jobseeker's Allowance. This will not affect customers who are in the Employment and Support Allowance support group.

Bereavement Support Payment (BSP)

This is a payment for people whose spouse or civil partner dies. It replaces all existing social security benefits for the bereaved (widowed parent's allowance and bereavement payment). The change came into effect on 6 April 2017.

If you already receive one of the current benefits, you will continue to do so while you satisfy conditions for the new payment.

Unlike the current benefits, the bereavement support payment is only paid for a maximum of 18 months from the date of death, if you claim within three months of the date of death.

 If your claim is more than 21 months after the date of death, you will only receive one month's payment.

You  will only be eligible for the payment if you were under pensionable age at the time your spouse died.

The payment will automatically stop once you reach pensionable age, even if this happens within 18 months of the date of death.

There are two rates of Bereavement Support Payment:

  • If you are pregnant or have dependant children, you will receive an initial lump sum of £3,500, followed by up to 18 monthly payments of £350

  • If you do not have dependant children, you will receive an initial lump sum of £2,500, followed by up to 18 monthly payments of £100

Free childcare

The current entitlement of 15 hours' free childcare a week for 38 weeks of the year for all children aged three and four years, will be doubled from September 2017 to 30 hours.

The parent(s) must earn, on average, the weekly equivalent of 16 hours at the national living wage rate. 

This means that you do not need to work 16 hours a week - you just need to earn the required minimum, which from April will equal £120 a week (16 x £7.50) for over 25s.

 If you are a couple, both parents must be working and earning above the required amount.

National Living Wage

These rates from April 2017 are:

  • £7.50 for those aged 25 and over
  • £7.05 for those aged 21-24
  • £5.60 for those aged 18-20
  • £4.05 for those aged 16-17
  • £3.50 for apprentices

Welfare assistance scheme

This is a local scheme, run by Hampshire County Council that replaced the social fund. It aims to provide better information, advice and support to people and families struggling to cope with economic and social challenges, as well as people facing short-term crises. You can find out more about how the scheme could help you on Hampshire County Council's local welfare assistance web page.

 
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