Housing Benefit 2016 and 2017

Additional bedroom allowance

From 1st April 2017, regulations give provision in certain circumstances for an extra bedroom to be allowed when working out Housing Benefit entitlement.  Households with an extra bedroom that is used by a non-resident carer who provides overnight care for a member of the household, or where a member of a household is unable to share a bedroom due to their disability may qualify for extra Housing Benefit. To find out more please contact your Local Service Point.

Backdating Housing Benefit

New limits to backdating Housing Benefit claims for working age claimants were introduced in April 2016. Housing Benefit claims can now only be backdated for a maximum of one month (period was previously six months). For those claimants who have attained the qualifying age for state pension credit backdating for up to three months is still allowed but a possible extension to six months was removed from legislation.

Changes to Local Housing Allowance

Additionally from April 2016 a four-year freeze to Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates for 4 years from 2016-17 to 2019-20 was introduced by the government. This means that Housing Benefit entitlement linked to the LHA rate has also been frozen. Find the Local Housing Allowance rates for Argyll and Bute here.

Removing Housing Benefit Family Premium

Housing Benefit family premium was withdrawn for new claims in England, Scotland and Wales from 1 May 2016 for new entitlements to Housing Benefit or for existing claimants who have a child or become responsible for a child (under 16) or a young person (under 20) for the first time since 30 April 2016.

This also meant that if a current claim ceases to have the family premium included in their claim because they no longer have responsibility for a child or young person , then they will not be able to regain access to the family premium if they become responsible again in the future.

Claimants who are receiving a passporting benefit (Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance or guarantee element of Pension Credit) will continue to be entitled to the family premium if they cease to claim the passporting benefit and claim HB only. The passporting benefit only provides a disregard for income and capital so the entitlement to the family premium is still there when calculating the Housing Benefit entitlement.

Those claimants not on a passporting benefit will retain the family premium if they were entitled to it on 30 April 2016 until:

  • they make a new claim for Housing Benefit; or                
  • they no longer have responsibility for any children or young people.

Housing Benefit and Pension Credit: limiting temporary absence

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has made changes to the Housing Benefit Regulations regarding the temporary absence rule. From 28 July 2016 the amount of time that someone can be treated as occupying their home and eligible for housing benefit, while they are outside Great Britain has been reduced to 4 weeks, but it can be longer in certain circumstances.

The rules are very similar to how the rules work under Universal Credit i.e. those who can have the Housing Costs Element included in their Universal Credit award while they are temporarily abroad. The changes affect both the working age and Pension Credit age Housing Benefit Regulations.

The general time limit will be 4 weeks, i.e. Housing Benefit will only be payable whilst someone outside Great Britain if they intend to return within 4 weeks.

Time limits that apply vary depending on your circumstances, so in different situations, the time limits can be 4, 8, 13, 26 or 52 weeks.

Tax Credits and Universal Credit two child limit

In the summer budget 2015, the government proposed that support for children through Tax Credits and Universal Credit will be limited to two children from April 2017. The two child limit will apply to all new children being added to claims from April 2017 unless an exception applies. Equivalent changes will be made to the Housing Benefit rules.  

 

Useful Contacts

For further help and support please contact your landlord on the relevant number below;

Alternatively the following organisations can also help to provide guidance and support;

  • The Council’s Welfare Rights Service can provide advice and support and can be contacted over the phone on 01546 605517,
  • The Citizens Advice service provides a wide range of confidential advice. To contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau, phone 08456 123808 
  • Shelter offers confidential housing, welfare benefits and debt advice through a network of advice services; freephone Housing Advice Helpline on 0808 800 4444. 8am-8pm Monday-Friday and 8am-5pm Saturday-Sunday