Other Welfare Reform Changes

Local Housing Allowance Cap

This welfare reform has been scrapped! The government had planned to reduce Housing Benefit and help with housing costs through Universal Credit for some social housing tenants from April 2019. However, this change is now not going ahead.

The government is, instead, proposing changes to the way supported housing is funded from April 2020.

Backdating a Housing Benefit Claim

If you are under “Pension Credit age” and you ask for a Housing Benefit claim to be “backdated” this can only be allowed for up to one calendar month from the date you ask for it. A backdate is when you haven’t claimed in time and you want the Housing Benefit office to pay your Housing benefit from an earlier date. If you are under “Pension Credit age” you have to show that you had a very good reason for not claiming earlier. This new rule came in from April 2016, before that a backdate could be for up to six months. 

If you are making your new claim because your previous claim was terminated, it is worth checking to see whether you can challenge the decision to end your previous claim. If your previous claim can be reinstated, there will be no gap in entitlement. Contact us for advice.

If you are “Pension Credit age” you can still request a backdate of up to 3 months.

Going Abroad

If you go abroad for longer than 4 weeks, you won’t get any Housing Benefit while you are away. There are exceptions – there is a 26-week limit for certain people who are abroad due to a particular type of work as listed in the Regulations (eg armed forces, mariners), some people fleeing domestic violence or if you are in hospital or undergoing medical treatment abroad. The time limit of 4 weeks can be extended by up to a further 4 weeks if you are abroad due to the death of a close relative and the Housing Benefit Office considers it unreasonable to expect you to return within 4 weeks. If you go to Northern Ireland, this counts as abroad under the new rules; they affect anyone away from Great Britain. When you go abroad you must intend to return within the 4 (or 8 or 26) weeks and actually be back home within that time period to be able to receive Housing Benefit for the period you are away.  These new rules have been in place since 28th July 2016.

If someone who normally lives with you is going to be staying in the property they might be able to claim Housing Benefit instead – contact us for advice.

New State Retirement Pension

Anyone who reaches State Pension age on or after 6th April 2016 will fall under the new rules for State Retirement Pensions. People who reach State Pension age before this date will get their State Pension based on the old rules.

There are some key differences between the old and the new schemes.

Go to the page about the State Pension for more details.

Pension Credit

Could Pension Credit give you extra income?

There are two types of Pension Credit: Guarantee Pension Credit and Savings Pension Credit. Some people get one or the other and some people can get both.

Guarantee Pension Credit is a benefit which people of Pension Credit Age can claim; it tops up their income to a minimum level. It is much more generous than the working age means-tested benefits. Even if you are only entitled to a small amount, the good news is that you automatically qualify for maximum help with your rent too! So it is well worth making a claim even if you’re not sure whether you will qualify - you’ve nothing to lose.

Savings Pension Credit is for people aged 65 and over. It provides extra money to some people who have made some additional provision for their retirement, eg. private or works pensions.

Changes from April 2016 mean that if you reach State Pension age on or after 6th April 2016 you will not be able to make a new claim for Savings Pension Credit.

For more information go to our Pension Credit page.