Benefit changes - welfare reform
The government is introducing a number of changes to the way your benefits are administered and calculated.
We will provide updates about these changes as they become available, as some of the changes are yet to be finalised by the government.
The three latest changes to welfare payments affecting people in Brighton & Hove are:
- Local Housing Allowance rates frozen from April 2016
- Benefit Cap rates dropping from November 2016
- Benefits restricted to two children from April 2017 (meaning Child Tax Credits and Universal Credit will not be paid for any third or subsequent child born after 1 April 2017)
Read our benefit changes update (PDF 1..08mb) for information and guidance on what you can do.
Universal Credit was introduced in Brighton & Hove for people living alone making new claims for Jobseeker's Allowance in December 2015 and is due to be introduced for all new claimants in the city from October and November 2017. You do not need to do anything - the Jobcentre will tell you if you need to apply for Universal Credit.
From April 2013, Council Tax Benefit was replaced by Council Tax Reduction, Housing Benefit 'under-occupation' rules were introduced for people renting from a council or housing association, and changes were made to Crisis Loans and Community Care Grants.
It is important you continue reading this page if you are in receipt of any of the following benefits:
|Department of Work & Pensions (DWP)||HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC)||Brighton & Hove City Council (local authority)|
Crisis Loans and Community Care Grants (Social Fund)
Employment & Support Allowance (or Incapacity Benefit)
Disability Living Allowance (if you are aged between 16 and 64)
Benefit Cap (from August 2013, changing from November 2016)
The government introduced a maximum total benefit entitlement, which includes how much you are given to help pay towards your rent, in Brighton & Hove from August 2013. From November 2016, the government reduced the rate of the cap to £384 a week for couples or single parents with children, and £257 a week for single people.
In April 2016, the government froze the Local Housing Allowance rates for four years. This means that the rates will stay set as they are now until 2020. Local Housing Allowance is the amount paid in Housing Benefit to people renting in the private sector depending on the size of their household.
Disability Living Allowance for working age people to be replaced by the Personal Independence Payment (from April 2013)
The government is replacing Disability Living Allowance (DLA) with Personal Independence Payments (PIP). From 10 June 2013, new claims for people aged between 16 and 64 in Brighton & Hove moved to PIP, with other people claiming DLA affected switched later unless their condition changes, they turn 16 or they reach the end of their existing DLA award. At some point, people of working age (16-64 years) receiving DLA will be written to by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and asked to submit a new application for PIP. If claimants don’t respond, their benefit could stop.
Council Tax Reduction (from April 2013)
The government abolished the national Council Tax Benefit system in April 2013, with councils introducing local Council Tax support systems to replace it. The government is also reducing the grant to help people pay Council Tax, which leaves shortfalls in the funds available to help low income households. Brighton & Hove's replacement Council Tax Reduction (CTR) scheme was introduced on 1 April 2013.
The council needs to review the scheme every year to consider if changes need to be made. Due to the reducing government grant, there will be a shortfall of at least £4.1 million to help low income households in Brighton & Hove pay their Council Tax in 2017/18.
Following consultation in autumn 2016, changes to the Council Tax Reduction Scheme for 2017/18 were agreed in December 2016.
Housing Benefit under occupation changes for council and housing association tenants (from April 2013)
From 1 April 2013, the government introduced a 'size criteria' which limits how many bedrooms 'working-age' people living in council or housing association properties receive Housing Benefit for. If you have more bedrooms than the government say you need, your benefit will have been reduced. The rules for calculating your 'working age' have now changed and are worked out on a sliding scale. If you are unsure if you are 'working age', you can work out if you are treated as pensionable age, via a calculator at www.gov.uk/pension-credit-calculator.
Crisis Loans and Community Care Grants (from April 2013)
The government no longer administers Crisis Loans and Community Care Grants through the DWP. In its place, the council is running our replacement Local Discretionary Social Fund scheme, which came into operation from 1 April 2013.
Introduction of Universal Credit to replace working-age benefits (from 2015)
The government is revising the current benefit structure and replacing a range of working-age benefits with a single streamlined payment known as Universal Credit. Universal Credit began in some areas in April 2013 and is being introduced nationwide gradually. The benefits that will be replaced by Universal credit are:
- Job Seekers Allowance (income-based)
- Employment Support Allowance (income related) or Incapacity Benefit
- Income Support
- Working Tax Credit
- Child Tax Credit
- Housing Benefit.
Universal Credit was introduced in Brighton & Hove for people living alone making new claims for Jobseeker's Allowance in December 2015. It will be introduced from 4 October 2017 for anyone making a new claim for benefits in the Hove Job Centre area and from 29 November 2017 for new claimants in the Brighton Job Centre area. From these dates, people who are already claiming other benefits may also be moved onto Universal Credit if they have a change of circumstances.
You do not need to do anything - the Jobcentre will tell you if you need to apply for Universal Credit.
There are a number of organisations offering support getting online and advice on budgeting for Universal Credit.
If you are a council tenant and are told to claim Universal Credit, please let the Income Management Team know so they can support you with your payments.
Universal Credit will be paid monthly, in arrears to one member of the household. For further information on Universal Credit, please visit the Department of Work and Pensions website or go to gov.uk/universal-credit.