A guide to benefits

On this page you can find information and useful links to benefits that you may be entitled to.

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is now the major benefit for new job-seeking claimants and has started to replace benefits for working age claimants.

What is Universal Credit?uc

Universal Credit is a single means-tested benefit paid to working age claimants. You can receive Universal Credit if you are in work and on a low income, or if you are out of work. It will cover housing costs and day-to-day living costs for you and your family.

Universal Credit will be paid monthly to you on behalf of your household, directly into your bank or building society account. You'll be responsible for managing this money and paying your bills.

Any help you get with your rent will be included with your Universal Credit payment and you'll be responsible for paying your rent to us from this. It is important you are aware of this change as you could lose your home if you don't pay your rent.

How much you get will depend on your personal circumstances. To make work pay, your Universal Credit payment will reduce gradually as you earn more, so you won't lose all your benefits at once if you're on a low income.

When will I be able to claim Universal Credit?

At the moment you'll only receive Universal Credit if you need to make a new job seeker's claim. If you need to make a claim for any of the other six benefits Universal Credit will replace, you'll remain on the old benefits system.

The six benefits that will be replaced by universal Credit are:

  • Income-related employment and support allowance
  • Income support
  • Working tax credit
  • Child tax credit
  • Income-based jobseeker's allowance
  • Housing benefit

If you are already claiming, or plan to claim, any of these benefits it's important to find out about Universal Credit and how it will affect you.

New claims will be taken from a gradually wider group of people until 2022, at which point everyone will claim Universal Credit. 

If you already claim one of the affected benefits, you'll continue to do so as normal and you'll be told when Universal Credit will affect you. But it's worth finding out more so you can prepare.

If you are planning to claim to Universal Credit, please contact us so that we can help you with your claim.

You won't be affected by Universal Credit if you and your partner have both reached the qualifying age for pension credit, or if at least one of you has an existing claim to Pension Credit.

How can I prepare for Universal Credit?

There are a number of differences between claiming Universal Credit and the benefits you may be used to receiving. By understanding how Universal Credit works and planning in advance, you can make the move to Universal Credit as easy as possible.

We can offer you help and support to do this.

Paying rent yourself

You can find out how about to pay rent on our how to pay rent link.

You should always let us know if you have any issues that may make it difficult for you to pay your rent, such as debt or addiction. We can provide support and may be able to request that your Universal Credit is paid directly to us to cover your rent.

If you do not pay your rent you could lose your home so it is important you speak to us.

Claiming online

Universal Credit claims will be made online. To help you manage online claims, Incommunities provides free computer skills training for residents aged 18 to 60 who do not have access to computer equipment and the internet, and few IT skills. Find out more on our ICT link.

Getting a bank account

We can help you open a basic bank account and even help by using your tenancy agreement as one of the proofs of id you require.

We have a special arrangement with Barclays who provide a Basic Current Account that offers free, no-frills banking for customers. With this account you can:

  • Choose between a Barclays Visa debit card or cash card (ATM only)
  • Make payments from your Barclays Basic Current Account by Direct Debit or standing order 
  • Withdraw up to £300 a day (if you have available funds) from Barclays ATMs or at Post Offices, or wherever you see the LINK sign
  • Manage your account online, by phone or in branch

Getting into debt and budgeting

We understand that it can sometimes be a challenge to manage your money and make sure you pay all your bills on time.

Drawing up a budget for you and your family is a good way of making sure that everything goes smoothly.

This budget calculator can help you plan your finances and avoid getting into debt.

If you're concerned that you may be struggling to pay your bills or getting into debt, it is very important that you ask for help as soon as possible.

The good news is that there is plenty of help available. As well as Incommunities, Bradford Council fund debt advice services across the District.

There are always options if you act positively and get in touch with the people who are there to help you.

You can also visit the Money advice service website for help, advice and a personalised action plan https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/mntdemo

What is Housing Benefit?

 

Housing Benefit is a means tested benefit paid by Local Authorities to help people on low incomes to meet the cost of rented accommodation.

An award of HB helps the claimant pay the rent for the property occupied by their family. The calculation takes into account the circumstances of the claimant, their partner (if they have one), their dependant children (if they have any) and any 'non-dependants' that live with them.hb

To claim Housing Benefit:

  •  The claimant (and their partner) must meet the long list of qualifying conditions, eg have joint savings below £16,000, and
  • The claimant (or their partner) must be liable to pay rent on a property.
  •  The claimant must occupy that property as their home.

If you need further advice you can:

  • use an online benefits calculator such as that on the Directgov website
  • find out about a range of money, tax and benefits information from the Directgov website

If you are struggling to pay your own rent, you may be eligible for Housing Benefit. Please contact the Income Team on 0330 175 9540 and your Income Officer will be able to advise and assist you in making a claim for Housing Benefit.

If you are concerned about your finances or paying your rent get in touch with our team on 0330 175 9540.

You can also visit the Money advice service website for help, advice and a personalised action plan https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/mntdemo

What is Council Tax Support?

 

Localised Council Tax Support schemes provide help for people on low incomes with their Council Tax bill.

In England each local authority has devised their own Council Tax support scheme so there may be significant differences in the level of support available in different parts of the country.CT Logo

Local authorities must make sure that people who have reached Pension Credit age get the same level of entitlement under the new scheme as they did under Council Tax Benefit rules so they are protected from any reductions.

Local authorities will not be able to change their Council Tax support scheme during a Council Tax billing year. However, they will be able to make changes to their scheme for the start of each new billing year if they wish.

To find out what Council Tax Support scheme exists in your area you should contact your local authority.

 

www.bradford.gov.uk

http://www.kirklees.gov.uk

http://www.rotherham.gov.uk/

http://www.wakefield.gov.uk/

 

For further Information, please call us at 0330 175 9540.

You can also visit the Money advice service website for help, advice and a personalised action plan https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/mntdemo

What is Bedroom Tax / Spare room subsidy?

 

The government  introduced new rules about the number of bedrooms households need.  From April 2013, the amount of Housing Benefit paid for social housing residents has been reduced if residents have more bedrooms than they need.bt

How do the new rules affect you?

This could affect you:

  • if you are 16 to 61 years old
  • even if you only get a small amount of housing benefit – for example, if you are working
  • even if you are sick or disabled

You won’t be affected if:

  • you live in a one bedroom flat or bedsit, or if
  • you or your partner are old enough to receive pension credits.  Please note this is not the same as state retirement age.

 Are you seen to have too many bedrooms?

If you have more bedrooms than you need, the maximum Housing Benefit you can receive will be reduced by:Calculator

  • 14% of your rent if you have one extra bedroom
  • 25% of your rent if you have two or more extra bedrooms
  •  

Use our 'bedroom tax calculator' to find out how you might be affected.  

 

You will be expected to pay the extra amount yourself.

Click on the calculator to find out how many bedrooms you are entitled to.

What will be allowed under the new rules?

Some examples:

  • one bedroom allowed for a couple or a single adult
  • two children of different sexes aged under 10 are expected to share a bedroom
  • two children of the same sex aged under 16 are expected to share a bedroom

Exemptions may apply if your child is disabled

 

A single person or couple with two bedrooms will get a 14% cut in Housing Benefit

 

In a three bedroom home they will get a 25% cut in Housing Benefit

 

A single parent or couple with three bedrooms and two children under 10 will get a 14% cut in Housing Benefit

 

In a four bedroom home they will get a 25% cut in Housing Benefit

A single parent or couple with three bedrooms with two boys or two girl under 16 will get a 14% cut in Housing Benefit

 

In a four bedroom home they will get a 25% cut in Housing Benefit

 

A single person or couple living with one other person with three bedrooms will get 14% less

 

In a four bedroom home they will get a 25% cut in Housing Benefit in Housing Benefit

 

 

I have a spare bedroom – what can I do?

If you are affected by these changes it is important that you consider very carefully how you are going to deal with this.

Not paying the shortfall in your rent is not an option as this could result in losing your home.

Options available include:

  • Apply for Discretionary Housing Payments. This is not a permanent solution but may help you to make up the difference for a few months if you qualify.
  • Pay the shortfall (the difference between your Housing Benefit and your rent) to Sadeh Lok
  • Take in a lodger to help pay your rent. However if you are considering this option check with us first as this may affect your Housing Benefit.  You can advertise for a lodger free of charge using the LETSHELPYOU website.  There is even a lodger agreement for you to download.
  • Move to a small property.  This may be by applying to Sadeh Lok for a transfer to a smaller home or finding a home with another landlord.
  • You could also apply to exchange homes with another tenant who is looking for a larger home. This is called a mutual exchange.
  • Look for work or work extra hours to increase your income

 

If your benefit has been reduced and you need help or advice or are struggling to pay your rent please contact the Income Team on 0330 175 9540.

You can also visit the Money advice service website for help, advice and a personalised action plan https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/mntdemo

 

What is the Benefit Cap?

 

The benefit cap limits the amount you can be paid if you claim certain benefits. It applies to people of working age. People of pension age are exempt.

When all your benefits are calculated, your housing benefit or universal credit is reduced so your total benefits don't go above the benefit cap limit of £385 each week.bc

The benefit cap is worked out

  • weekly if you get housing benefit
  • monthly if you get universal credit

The weekly amounts are:

  • Couple (with or without children) or a single parent:  £384.62 per week  
  • Single person without children or not living with your children:  £257 per week

 

The new amounts are summarised in the table below - use monthly for Universal Credit and weekly for Housing Benefit.

 

Benefit Cap

 

The cap applies to the benefits you get as a household. It includes benefits received by you, your partner and any dependent children who live with you.

What you need to do is add all the benefits you receive from the following list.

Benefits included in the cap

The benefit cap calculation includes these benefits:

  • Housing benefit
  • income support
  • jobseeker's allowance
  • employment and support allowance (unless you are in the support group)
  • incapacity benefit
  • child benefit and child tax credits
  • maternity benefits and widows benefits paid by the Department for Work and Pensions
  • severe disablement allowance
  • universal credit

The benefit cap doesn't apply if you or your partner:

  • receive working tax credits
  • work enough hours to claim working tax credits

New exclusions from the Benefit Cap

Newly excluded from the Benefit Cap are:

  • Those in receipt of Guardian's Allowance and
  • Certain carers.

The carers who are excluded are:

  • Those getting paid Carer's Allowance,
  • Those with an underlying entitlement to Carer's Allowance, and
  • Those getting a Carer Element included in their Universal Credit award.

 

If you lose your job through no fault of your own, the benefit cap won't apply for the first 39 weeks of your claim. You must have been employed for 50 out of the last 52 weeks. Time working abroad or on zero-hours contracts counts for this.

You are exempt from the benefit cap if you, your partner or children receive certain benefits and some benefits and payments don't count towards the benefit cap – see the link for the list of these.

http://www.gov.uk/browse/benefits

If you have been affected by the benefit cap and are struggling to pay your rent, please contact your Income Officer who may be able to offer advice and assistance.

The Income Team are available on 0330 175 9540.

You can also visit the Money advice service website for help, advice and a personalised action plan https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/mntdemo

Better Off Benefits Advice and help

BetterOff is a service for people who live in Bradford, Kirklees, Wakefield and Rotherham. BetterOff will show you the benefits you are entitled to and will help you to apply for them online. BetterOff also provides information on how to find and apply for jobs.

Click here for the BetterOff website.