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Home / Advice & Benefits / Benefits / Local Housing Allowance / Changes to Housing Benefit from April 2011

Changes to Housing Benefit from April 2011

 

From April 2011 the Government is making changes to Housing Benefit, for tenants renting from a landlord in the private sector.

The changes

From 1 April 2011 the Government will:

  • End the maximum £15 weekly Housing Benefit excess that some customers can receive under the Local Housing Allowance arrangements.
  • Remove the five bedroom Local Housing Allowance rate so that the maximum level is for a four bedroom property.
  • Introduce absolute caps so that Local Housing Allowance weekly rates in any area cannot exceed:
  • £250 for a one bedroom property
  • £290 for a two bedroom property
  • £340 for a three bedroom property
  • £400 for a four bedroom property

Reduce the Local Housing Allowance rates to a lower amount so that about 3 in 10 properties for rent in the area should be affordable to people on Housing Benefit rather than 5 in 10 properties as now.  The new rates will be at what is known as the 30th Percentile.   

 

The Government also intends to make a change to help disabled people who have a carer who stays overnight but who doesn't normally live with them. The change means that your Housing Benefit will take into account the cost of an additional bedroom providing you rent a property which has a bedroom for your carer.

Questions and Answers

Will I be affected by the changes to Local Housing Allowance rates?

If you are renting from a private landlord and you made your claim for Housing Benefit at your current address on or after the 7 April 2008 it is likely that you will be affected by these changes.

I have been getting Housing Benefit since before April 2008 could the changes affect me?

Providing you continue to live in the same property and you don't have a break in your Housing Benefit claim the Local Housing Allowance arrangements will not apply to you. If you move rooms or flats within the property, you will be affected.

Will I be affected by the caps?

The caps will not affect people who are renting properties in Bournemouth. However, if you move out of Bournemouth you should contact the Council to where you are moving, to check if the caps apply in their area. 

How do I know which Local Housing Allowance rate applies to me?

You can use the following information as a guide to work out how many bedrooms you are allowed. You are allowed one bedroom for:

  • Every adult couple (married or unmarried)
  • Any other adult aged 16 or over
  • Any two children of the same sex aged under 16
  • Any two children aged under 10
  • Any other child

The maximum allowance is for four bedrooms from 1 April 2011.

Different rules may apply if you are under 35 or live in shared accommodation. 

I need a property with more than four bedrooms. Will I only get benefit at the four bedroom rate?

The maximum Housing Benefit you get will be based on the four bedroom rate. You can still look for properties with more than four bedrooms, or other rooms that can be used as bedrooms, with rents that are within the four bedroom rate. 

I am living in a self contained studio flat what rate applies to me?

The one bedroom Local Housing Allowance rate will normally apply to you. However, different rules may apply if you are under 35 or live in shared accommodation. The age level for the shared room rate of LHA will apply to all single people under the age of 35, who do not have children. You may need to consider if you will still be able to afford the rent after this date. 

When is my anniversary date?

The anniversary date sets the LHA rate for a year. This is normally a year from the date of your claim. However, if you move, have a child, a non-dependant adult joins or leaves your home and the LHA rate changes, the anniversary date will then be one year after this change happens. 

The rent I am paying now is likely to be more than the Housing Benefit I will get when the changes come in. What should I do?

You can talk to your landlord about the changes and see if they will drop the rent on your property. If that isn't possible you could start looking for somewhere cheaper. You might want to talk about your situation with our Housing Solutions team|, Housing Benefit department| or the Citizens Advice Bureau|

My landlord won't reduce my rent and it is going to be difficult for me to move is there any other help?

We will be able to help some people with a Discretionary Housing Payment to meet the gap between their benefit entitlement and the rent they pay. The amount of money available for these payments is limited so we will have to consider your circumstances carefully. 

My Housing Benefit is paid directly to my landlord, what should I do if my Local Housing Allowance rate is reduced? Or how will I know that the amount paid to my landlord will still meet my rent?

If your Housing Benefit is changed, you will receive a letter explaining the new level of benefit and when it applies from. 

Do I have to be getting Housing Benefit under the Local Housing Allowance arrangements to get the allowance for another bedroom for an overnight carer?

No. This change applies to all tenants who meet the qualifying conditions and live in privately rented accommodation no matter how their Housing Benefit is worked out. 

I think I will be due an increase in my Housing Benefit because I have a carer who stays overnight - who should I tell?

You will need to tell us that you have an overnight carer so that we can look at your Housing Benefit entitlement again. You must already have an extra bedroom in your home available for the carer to use before you get this help. If you are already getting Housing Benefit and meet the conditions for this extra help you will be entitled to it from the date the legislation becomes effective. 

What about extra rooms for other circumstances such as disabled children, couples that cannot share a room or where extra space is needed for medical equipment?

The change only applies where the person making the Housing Benefit claim, or their partner, needs overnight care.

 

For more details please contact us|.

Related Information

 

Postal Address Customer Services Centre,
St Stephens Road, Bournemouth, Dorset
BH2 6EB
Telephone 01202 451451
Minicom 01202 454974
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