TF16313 Barrhead report 2014
Jen Wearing, providing advice on welfare benefits

The Welfare Reform Act took effect in 2013, when it is due to roll out Universal Credit to replace the following benefits with one single payment:

Jobseekers Allowance – Income Support – Child Tax Credit – Working Tax Credit – Employment Support Allowance – Housing Benefit.

Universal Credit payments will include housing benefit and one single payment will be made to the claimant directly, as opposed to the current arrangement where the cost of rent is paid directly to the housing provider, like Barrhead HA, from the local authority. Universal Credit only applies to working age tenants, and doesnt apply to anyone over pensionable age (61years) at present. There are plans to look at a single pension Credit in the future.

From April 2013, the changes have introduced the under occupancy charge, commonly referred to as the bedroom tax, to those tenants in receipt of housing benefit. The amount of housing benefit received will be reduced if the property you live in is considered too big for your household.

I bedroom will be allowed for – every adult couple; every adult aged 16 or over; any 2 children of different sex what are under 10 years of age; any 2 children of the same sex under 16 years of age; any other child; a carer who regularly provides overnight care to you or your partner if you are disabled.

Housing Benefit will be cut by 14% if you have one spare room based on these criteria and up to 25% if you have two or more spare rooms. Currently there is funding available from East Renfrewshire Council for discretionary housing benefit to combat this under occupancy charge but tenants must apply for this. Please contact the Association or East Renfrewshire Council for assistance.

HOUSING BENEFIT SUSPENSIONS – currently the Department of Works and Pensions is in the process of reviewing all claimants in receipt of Income Support and Incapacity Benefit. When reviews are carried out, housing benefit payments to the Association are automatically suspended. Please contact us if this has happened to you so that we can assist you to re-apply.