The Benefit Cap was introduced by the Government in April 2013 to limit the total amount of benefits that working-age people can receive, so that households on out-of-work benefits should no longer receive more in welfare payments than the average weekly wage for working households. The limits are changing from 7th November 2016 so that:
The maximum amount of benefit per week (benefit cap) will be:
- £257.69 for single people without children
- £384.62 for single parents
- £384.62 for couples with or without children
In the short-term, the cap will be administered jointly by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Local Authorities (LAs) and will be deducted from Housing Benefit payments. In the long term it will form part of the new Universal Credit system.
Which Benefits count towards the cap?
- Bereavement Allowance
- Child Benefit
- Child Tax Credit
- Employment and Support Allowance (except where it is paid with the support component)
- Housing Benefit
- Incapacity Benefit
- Income Support
- Jobseeker's Allowance
- Maternity Allowance
- Severe Disablement Allowance
- Widowed Parent's Allowance
- Widowed Mothers Allowance
- Widows Pension
- Widows Pension (age-related)
Households that are not affected by the cap
The cap will not apply to you if you, your partner or any children you are responsible for qualify for Working Tax Credit or have been awarded any of the following benefits:
- Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment
- Attendance Allowance
- Working Tax Credits
- War Widows, War Widowers or War Disablement pension
- Employment and Support Allowance (Support Component)
- Industrial Injuries Benefits
- Armed Forces Compensation Scheme payments
- Carer's Allowance
- Guardian's Allowance
Additionally, the cap will not be applied for 39 weeks to those who have been in work continuously for the previous 12 months and who lose their job through no fault of their own.
On the 1st April 2013 the Government introduced new rules that set out the number of bedrooms Housing Benefit will pay for if you are renting from a Registered Housing Association or other Registered Social Landlord e.g. Cymdeithas Tai Cantref, Tai Ceredigion (former Council house) etc .
What are the changes?
The new rules restrict the size of accommodation you can receive Housing Benefit for based on the number of people in your household.
The rules allow one bedroom for:
- Every adult couple (married or unmarried)
- Any other adult aged 16 of over
- Any two children of the same sex aged under 16 (unless one of the children is severely disabled – see below)
- Any two children aged under 10 (unless one of the children is severely disabled – see below)
- Any other child, (other than a child whose main home is elsewhere*)
- A carer (or team of carers) who do not live with you but provide you or your partner with overnight care
- Foster Carers (see below)
- Armed Forces Personnel (see below)
(* A child/children that only stay with you at weekends cannot be included as part of your household unless you receive Child Benefit in respect of them).
Foster Carers – if you are an approved foster carer you will be allowed an additional bedroom, whether or not a child has been placed with you or if they are between placements, so long as you have fostered a child or become an approved foster carer in the last 12 months.
Armed Forces Personnel – You will to be allowed an additional bedroom if you have an adult son/daughter who still lives with you but is currently only absent from the family home because they are serving in the Armed Forces.
Children with Severe Disabilities – If your children are unable to share a bedroom due to the regular care and medical needs that you provide during the night to a severely disabled child then you may be entitled to an additional bedroom. You will be required to provide medical evidence to support your request for an extra bedroom e.g. a letter from your doctor. This evidence should outline the severity of the disability, nature and frequency of the care required during the night that would clearly disturb the sleep of your other child.
How will this affect me?
It is possible that the amount of Housing Benefit you get to pay your rent could go down.
If you are assessed as having more bedrooms than is necessary for your household you will be considered to be under-occupying that property.
If you are under-occupying there will be a reduction in your Housing Benefit of:
- 14% for under-occupancy by one bedroom
- 25% for under-occupancy by two bedrooms or more
Households that are not affected by the size criteria
There are certain circumstances where the size criteria rules will not be applied.
- State Pension credit age – The size criteria rules will only apply to claimants of working age.
- Non-Mainstream accommodation – these are mooring charges for house boats and site charges for caravans and mobile homes as well as various "excluded tenancies" within schedule 2 to the Housing Benefit Regulations i.e. regulated tenancies
- Temporary accommodation – any claimant who is placed in temporary accommodation by the local authority because they are homeless or to prevent homelessness.
- Exempt accommodation – These rules will not be applied to those in supported 'exempt' accommodation. This is a particular type of supported accommodation defined for Housing Benefit purposes as accommodation provided by a non-metropolitan county council in England, a housing association, a registered charity or voluntary organisation where that body or person acting on its behalf also provides the claimant with care, support or supervision as set out in paragraph 4 of Schedule 3 to the consequential Provisions Regulations 2006.
If you are experiencing financial hardship you may be entitled to receive an additional payment to help you with the shortfall. This is known as a Discretionary Housing Payment.
As part of the UK Government's ongoing program of welfare reform, elements of the Social Fund that were provided by the UK Government, specifically the Discretionary Community Care Grants and Crisis Loans, were discontinued at the end of March 2013.
The Welsh Government from 1 April 2013 introduced a new scheme will be called the Discretionary Assistance Fund.
The Discretionary Assistance Fund offers payments, or in kind support, to people needing urgent assistance and where there is an identified need to safeguard health and well being.
Payments will be made available to people who have no other means of meeting the immediate cost of living. They are not intended to meet the cost of ongoing expenses.
Within the scheme there are two types of non-repayable grant support:
- Emergency Assistance Payments - assistance in an emergency or when there is an immediate threat to health or wellbeing. Anyone over the age of 16 can be considered eligible for these payments if they need help to meet expenses due to an emergency or because of a disaster.
- Individual Assistance Payments - to meet an urgent identified need that enables or supports vulnerable people to establish themselves or remain living independently in the community. (To be eligible applicants must be: entitled to and be in receipt of income related welfare benefits; or if they are due to leave an institution or care home within 6 weeks, that they are likely to be entitled to receive income related welfare benefits on leaving).
How to apply:
The fund opened for applications on 1 April 2013.
To find out if you are eligible for support please read the eligibility criteria below:
You can apply to the fund by:
- Telephone - call 0800 859 5924 free from a landline or 03301 015 000 which is charged a local rate
- Complete the online application form by clicking here
- Click here to download a postal application form which should be sent to:
Discretionary Assistance Fund
PO Box 2377
On the 1st April 2013 as part of the UK Government Welfare Reform agenda Council Tax Benefit was abolished and replaced by the Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTRS).
Administration of CTRS was transferred to The Welsh Government and it was decided that Wales would have a National Scheme. The main Regulations for CTRS are set by the Welsh Government that each Local Authority needs to individually adopt with limited discretions in certain areas.
Ceredigion County Council have adopted The Council Tax Reduction Schemes and Prescribed Requirements (Wales) Regulation 2013 along with the following discretionary powers for 2016/17 financial year:
- To disregard War Disablement and War Widows Pension when calculating income
- To continue to allow a maximum of 4 weeks Extended Payment
- To allow a maximum of 3 months backdating of a Council Tax Reduction where continuous 'good cause' is proven
Whilst the UK Government funding for CTRS was nationally reduced by 10%, the Welsh Government has again provided additional funding to ensure that Councils in Wales can protect most people from any cuts for the 2016/17 financial year.