Welfare System Reform 2013
As part of the plan to reform the welfare system, the UK Government is making changes which are designed to simplify the benefit system and encourage people into work. Some of the changes will begin in April 2013, and others will be phased in over a three year period commencing October 2013.
The Welsh Government announced in January that it is now going to fund the shortfall in Council Tax benefit that would have seen people lose approximately 10% of their entitlement.
This will mean that from April 2013 until March 2014, if you are entitled to full Council Tax benefit you will continue to receive this amount.
We are not yet aware of what will happen after this time but will update you as soon as we do. For more detailed information please see Welsh government's website.
New rules for tenants under-occupying their property
From 1 April 2013 the Government is introducing new rules that sets out the number of bedrooms Housing Benefit will pay for, if you live in accommodation rented from a Housing Association such as Monmouthshire Housing , Melin or Charter.
New and existing working age Housing Benefit claimants who under-occupy their property will have their Housing Benefit cut by 14% for one spare bedroom and 25% for two or more spare bedrooms.
The new rules do not apply to you if you or your partner are of pensionable age. In April 2013 pensionable age will be around 61 years and six months rising to 62 in April 2014.
Under the rules one bedroom is allowed 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, (other a child whose main home is elsewhere)
- a carer who provides you or your partner with overnight care (providing you have a spare bedroom for this purpose).
Important concessions were recently announced by the Department for Work and Pensions. Foster carers will now be allowed an additional room as long as they have fostered a child or become a registered carer in the past 12 months. Adult offspring in the armed forces who are away on operations will be counted as continuing to live at home, as long as they intend to return home. In addition, in some cases disabled children will be allowed separate rooms under the criteria but the Council may need supporting evidence to confirm the circumstances.
Further information is available in the social rented sector factsheet.
If you think you’ll be affected then contact the relevant housing association:
For general information check the central government website.
The Benefits Cap
A cap is being introduced on the maximum amount of benefit that can be claimed by a household
- £500 for a couple or lone parent and
- £350 for a single claimant
(Those in receipt of disability living allowance, working tax credit or war widow's pension, personal independence payments will be exempt from this measure).
Household means claimant their partner and any dependant children.
At first the cap will be applied by the Council by reducing your Housing Benefit entitlement. In the longer term the cap will be applied as part of the new Universal Credit system.
The Benefits cap does not apply to pensioner households.
In Wales this measure will be introduced during the Summer of 2013.
The Council will be contacting all those affected by this measure nearer the time.
Universal Credit is a new benefit which will be introduced from October 2013. It will replace Income Support, Income Based Job Seekers Allowance/ Employment and Support Allowance, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit. This means that only one claim will need to be made and only one payment will be made.
The system is intended to simplify the way benefits are paid and the vast majority of claims will be made online.
How will Universal Credit be paid?
In most cases Universal Credit will be paid directly to the claimant monthly in arrears. This means that Housing Benefit will no longer be paid to your landlord and the tenant will be responsible for paying the rent to their landlord. Although there will be some exceptions for vulnerable people, it is essential that all tenants have a bank account so that they can receive the benefit payment and make arrangements to pay their rent as soon as they receive their payment e.g. by setting up a direct debit.
When will Universal Credit be introduced?
Universal Credit will be introduced in October 2013 and all new claims to the current benefits and Credits will be phased out by April 2014.
Existing claims will move onto Universal Credit between October 2013 and October 2017.
Further information is also available in the Universal Credit fact sheet.