Changes to Housing Benefit
5th Dec 2011
As part of the government’s programme of welfare reform, from the 1st of January next year single people aged from 25 to 34 who rent from a private landlord will only be entitled to the Housing Benefit shared accommodation rate irrespective of the size of accommodation actually rented.
The shared accommodation rate is based on the level of local rents for properties that are not self contained. This will usually mean there is a shared kitchen, bathroom, toilet or living room.
A Housing Executive spokesman explained:
“If you are already receiving Housing Benefit at the one bedroom, self-contained rate your Housing Benefit may be reduced.
“It is therefore extremely important if you are currently receiving or thinking of claiming Housing Benefit, to consider the effect these changes will have on you before you renew or make a new tenancy agreement with a private landlord.
“These changes will not affect you if you rent from the Housing Executive or a housing association or are aged under 22 and have been in care. This will also be the case if you live in supported housing provided by a registered charity, voluntary organisation or Health Trust.
“The changes may also not apply if you receive the middle or higher rate care component of the Disability Living Allowance or need an extra bedroom for a non resident carer.
“The changes will take place gradually for existing cases over the next 12 months. The Housing Executive is writing to those who are receiving Housing Benefit and who may be affected by the change, giving details of the date on which individual claims will be affected.
“If you have an existing claim and you think you fall into the affected group described above and do not receive a letter, please phone 03448 920 902 or contact your local Housing Benefit Service Centre.
“If you are affected by the changes, depending on where you live, your award of Housing Benefit may be between £20 and £40 per week less than what would have expected.
“If this is the case you may be entitled to some additional financial assistance to meet this shortfall. Such payments however cannot be guaranteed in all cases. Any award may not cover the full shortfall and is made for a limited period only.”
For more information, please contact your local HB Service Centre in person or phone 03448 920 902 or our website www.nihe.gov.uk.
Advice on Housing Benefit is also available from Citizens Advice Bureau, the Housing Rights Service and Advice NI.
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