Severe Disability Premium and Universal Credit
As of 27 January 2021, all working-age people needing to make a new claim for means-tested benefit have had to claim Universal Credit. For those that would have stood to lose their severe disability premium on a current benefit claim should receive a Severe Disability Premium Transitional Element on their Universal Credit claimant.
Note that in some circumstances this does not cover the full loss still. Also, if you have a change of circumstances which increases your base entitlement to Universal Credit this reduces the Transitional Element.
Rates of Benefits
The government currently intends to reduce the standard allowance on Universal Credit by £20 per week from October 2021.
Working Tax Credits are being reduced by £20 per week from April 2021, although Working Tax Credits will get a one-off payment of £500 to compensate this. Payments should be made by 23 April 2021.
Rates of Benefits
The government had previously frozen the rate of benefits, except pensioner and disability benefits, so they did not rise with inflation. This came to an end in 2020. Additionally, in response to COVID-19, the government announced an extra £20 per week increase to the rates of Universal Credit, Working Tax Credits and Housing Benefit. This extra £20 is due to be removed from October 2021.
Also, although not relevant to social housing tenants, the government also announced a significant increase in the maximum amounts payable under the Local Housing Allowance, meaning market/private tenants can apply for much more help towards housing than before.
Suspension of face to face appointments
While government restrictions are in place due to Covid-19, Jobseekers will normally discuss their claim with their work coach over the phone or via their online journal. Claimants will not be expected to attend face-to-face medical assessments for Personal Independence Payments, Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance; these may be conducted over the phone instead. People appealing decisions on their benefits may have their appeal heard by phone or video call instead of at a court.
Help with funeral expenses is available through the Social Fund for some on low incomes. The base rate which can be awarded has been increased by £300 to £1000. For help to claim this, please contact our Benefits Advice team.
Pension Credit changes:
From 01/02/2019 pensioners who have responsibility for children can no longer make a new claim to Tax Credits, and extra amounts to cover the cost of supporting a child are included in their Pension Credit instead.
As of 15/05/2019 couples are no longer able to make a new claim for Pension Credit (and/or Housing Benefit as a pensioner) until both members of the couple have reached their own state retirement ages. People affected will have to claim Universal Credit instead. This does not affect couples who are already entitled to Pension Credit and/or Housing Benefit on 14/05/2019 for as long as they remain entitled.
This means that if a single pensioner enters a relationship with someone who has not reached their state retirement age yet, any entitlement to Pension Credit or Housing Benefit will end and they will have to claim Universal Credit instead if they need to make a benefit claim as a couple.
Anyone included on a Universal Credit claim when they have already reached their state retirement age will not be expected to meet any conditions in return for the benefit but their working-age partner will be subject to all the normal conditions.
If you would like advice on whether these rules affect you please contact our Benefits Advice team.
Universal Credit is a new type of benefit which is being gradually introduced across the country for working-age people. It replaces a number of current benefits. For more information visit our Universal Credit page.
The Benefit Cap is a cap on the total benefits a claimant can receive. It is set at £20,000 per year per family outside of London, equivalent to about £385 per week. For single people with no children the cap is £13,400 per year or about £258 per week.
How does it work?
The Benefit Cap works by adding up all of the money you receive from certain benefits (click here for a list).
However, if you, your partner or children who you get Child Benefit for are entitled to any of the following benefits, you should be exempt:
- Working Tax Credit
- Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payments
- Attendance Allowance
- Industrial Injuries benefits
- The Support component of Employment and Support Allowance
- The ‘Limited Capability for Work Related Activity element’ of Universal Credit
- War Widow’s or War Widower’s Pension
- Carer’s Allowance
- Guardian’s Allowance
Also, if you claim Universal Credit and have net monthly earnings of at least £542.88 in your monthly assessment period, you will be exempt.
Finally, if you were previously in work for at least 50 weeks out of the last 52 weeks and were not claiming Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance during that time, then the Benefit Cap is not applied for the first 39 weeks from when you stopped working. This is called the ‘grace period’.
If you’re not exempt and your total benefit income adds up to more than the cap, then your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit is reduced by the amount over the cap you are. If you do not receive Housing Benefit or Universal Credit then you won’t be affected.
For example if your total benefit income is £415 per week, this is £30 over the £385 per week cap, so your Housing Benefit will be reduced by £30 per week. This means you will have to pay this towards your rent instead. If you get Universal Credit this works in the same way, but is assessed monthly instead.
Am I affected?
Are you affected by the Cap and need help?
Then please call us on 0300 123 5544 to ask for our Benefit Advice Team or email us on email@example.com
We can check your benefit entitlements, help you to apply for any of the exempting benefits if they apply or otherwise discuss your options with you.
If you are of working age and claiming Housing Benefit, or help with rent on Universal Credit, but have what the Government deems to be a ‘spare’ bedroom, your benefit may be reduced. Your Housing Benefit, or your Housing Element part of your Universal Credit, will be reduced by 14% for one spare bedroom, and 25% for two or more spare bedrooms.
The following people need their own bedroom:
- a couple
- a single person over the age of 16
- two children under 16 of the same sex
- two children under 10 regardless of their sex
- a child under 16 where there is no other child to share with them
- someone who cannot share a bedroom due to a disability
- someone who provides regular over-night care to an occupant
- an extra bedroom if you are a foster carer.
Here are examples of circumstances under which the Government would consider you have a ‘spare’ bedroom. It is important to note this does not affect people claiming pension-age benefits:
- You and your partner live in a three bedroom house and have a boy aged eight and a girl aged three. The Government says that you only need a two bedroom house.
- You live by yourself or with a partner in a two bedroom flat.
- You live by yourself or with a partner in a specially adapted two bedroom bungalow because you are disabled. The only exceptions to this are if you need a carer to stay overnight on a regular basis or if you or your partner are unable to share a bedroom due to a disability (there must also be Attendance Allowance higher rate, Disability Living Allowance care component middle or higher rate or Personal Independence Payments daily living component awarded for either of these exceptions to apply).
Successive reforms to Welfare Benefits have been introduced in the past few years. These changes could significantly affect the amount of money you have coming in each week and may well reduce the amount of help with rent you get as well as how it is paid.
Please call our Customer Contact team on 0300 123 5544 and ask to speak to a Welfare Benefits Advisor.