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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Important changes to Housing Benefit

  • Published: Monday, 28 March 2011

There are important changes to Local Housing Allowance from April 2011. These changes will affect people getting Housing Benefit, who pay rent to a private landlord.

Who is affected?

If you are making a new claim for Housing Benefit, these changes will apply to you from this 1 April 2011.

If you are already claiming Housing Benefit, the changes are likely to affect the amount of money you get towards your rent. If you are already claiming Housing Benefit, you may have more time before these changes apply to you. 

If your circumstances don’t change, you will continue to get the same rate of Local Housing Allowance as you get now. This will continue for nine months after your local authority next assess your Housing Benefit, after 1 April. The information here will help you work out how the changes will affect you, or you can contact your local authority.

Changes from 1 April 2011

From 1 April 2011 the rates for Local Housing Allowance will be reduced across the country:

Weekly excess

The maximum £15 weekly excess that some customers can get will be removed.

Limits on payments

A limit will be introduced so that Local Housing Allowance does not exceed:

  • £250 a week for a one bedroom property (including shared accommodation)
  • £290 a week for a two bedroom property
  • £340 a week for a three bedroom property
  • £400 a week for a four bedroom property

The maximum rate of Housing Benefit will be limited to the rate for a four bedroom property.

Explaining the changes

These changes will affect almost everyone who is claiming Local Housing Allowance

Local authorities will be writing to people getting Housing Benefit about the changes. It is important that you read the letter carefully and seek further advice as you will need to consider what to do when the changes come in.

These changes will affect almost everyone who is claiming Local Housing Allowance. You may want to contact your local authority to find out how this is likely to affect you.

You may also want to seek advice from your Housing Benefit office before you sign a new tenancy agreement.

To help you plan for the changes next year you can compare the current rates against what the new rates are likely to be for where you live.

Help for disabled people

There will be help for disabled people towards the cost of an extra bedroom if they need an overnight carer.

Other changes

New tenancy agreements

You may want to seek advice before you sign a new tenancy agreement

Changes from April 2011 to April 2014

The deductions made from Housing Benefit will be gradually increased if there is an adult living in your household who you do not claim benefit for. An example would be a grown up child.

Changes from January 2012

The shared accommodation rate currently applies to single people under the age of 25 living in accommodation that they rent from a private landlord. This will be extended to people aged under 35.

This means that single people under 35 will no longer receive Housing Benefit based on one bedroom self-contained accommodation.

Changes from April 2013

Housing Benefit will be restricted for some people who are living in a property that is larger than their household size. This will apply to working-age customers renting from a social landlord.

Annual increases in payments

Local Housing Allowance rates will be uprated in line with the Consumer Price Index. The Consumer Price Index measures the average changes in the prices of consumer and services in the UK from month to month. It is the main measure of inflation in the UK; the government uses it for its inflation target.

Further information

There is more detail about Housing Benefit and the Local Housing Allowance rules in the money, tax and benefits section of Directgov.

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