From April 2011 the Government is making several changes to Housing Benefit.
Local Housing Allowance Rates
Local Housing Allowance rates are the maximum amount that that can be paid in Housing Benefit. These rates apply to most tenants who rent their home from a private landlord. They do not apply to Rykneld Homes or Housing Association tenancies and certain other tenancies.
If you rent your home from a private landlord and made your claim since 7th April 2008, it is likely that you are receiving Local Housing Allowance and these changes will apply to you.
What is changing?
Prior to 1st April 2011 each Local Housing Allowance rate has been set by determining the ‘median’ rent calculated from the average of rents for that particular bedroom size in a Broad Market Rental Area (BRMA).
From 1st April 2011 Local Housing Allowance rates will reduce 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 prior to 1st April 2011. The new rates will be at what is known as the 30th Percentile.
The effect of this change is that the amount of Housing Benefit that you receive will reduce and you will have to pay any difference yourself. If you cannot pay the difference then you may have find cheaper accommodation somewhere else.
If you are currently claiming Housing Benefit the change in Local Housing Allowance rates will not normally be applied to your claim until 9 months after your review date. Your review date is normally based on the date on which your benefit claim originally commenced. However, if you have had a change in your household or moved since you made your claim your anniversary date may be different.
For example: If you claimed Benefit in April 2008 your anniversary date will normally be April 2011, your protection would last for 9 months from that date and therefore the new Local Housing Allowance Rate would not be applied until December 2011.
Note: If you move address after 1st April 2011 the 9 months protection will be lost and the change will apply immediately. You may also lose the protection if there is a change in your household that affects the Local Housing Allowance rate.
In the North East Derbyshire are there are 4 Broad Rental Market Areas. These are Chesterfield, North Nottingham, Peaks and Dales and Sheffield. Your Housing Benefit is assessed using the Local Housing Allowance for the Broad Rental Market Area that your property is in.
The current Local Housing Allowance Rates and the likely new rates from 1st April 2011 are shown on the Local Housing Allowance Direct website
Removal of the £15.00 excess payment
Currently, tenants can receive up to £15.00 extra benefit each week if their rent is lower than their Local Housing Allowance rate. This will stop for new claimants from 4th April 2011 and for existing claimants from their review date.
An additional room for carers
From 1st April 2011 an extra bedroom will be awarded if the claimant or their partner requires overnight care. The care must be provided by someone who does not normally live in the property and an extra room must be available for the carer.
If you feel that you may be entitled to an extra bedroom in your Local Housing Allowance calculation then please contact us (details below).
Removal of the baby premium
From 1st April 2011 the additional premium allowed when calculating benefit if a claimant's family include a child under the age of one is being removed.