Changes to your Housing and Council Tax benefits for 2013

Changes to your Housing and Council Tax benefits for 2013

There are many changes to benefits happening now and over the next few years because of the Welfare Reform Act 2012.

Some of these proposals are not yet law, so they may change.

You can keep up-to-date with what is happening with welfare reform on the UK Parliament website, or you can find out more about the changes on the Department of Work and Pensions website.

The Welfare Reform Act 2012 contains provisions that will see the abolition of:

  • Council Tax Benefit
  • Some elements of the Discretionary Social Fund and
  • Disability Living Allowance

It also makes provision for the setting up of a Local Council Tax Support scheme and a Local Assistance scheme.

Other changes include the introduction of a Benefit Cap and reduction in housing benefit due to under occupation in the Social Sector.

Please see below for more details.

Changes to Council Tax Benefit - Local Council Tax Support

Council Tax Benefit (CTB) will cease to exist from 31March 2013.  It will be replaced by Localised Council Tax Support (CTS).  Every Council is required to ‘design’ and adopt a scheme based on the national framework. 

The funding, which will now come from the Department of  Communities and Local Government  rather than the Department  of Work and Pensions will be paid in advance and will be a set amount.  Therefore, it will be the responsibility of the billing authorities to administer the scheme and to cover any costs above the funding. 

The legislation includes a national scheme for pensioners mirroring the current Council Tax Benefit scheme. 

The scheme adopted by SCDC protects lone parents with children aged under 5, those who receive certain disability benefits (DLA and those with ESA Support) and in receipt of Carers allowance. If you are in the protected group you benefit will be assessed based on the current Council Tax Benefit scheme. 

 All other working age claimants will have an 8.5% reduction in their Council Tax Support. The scheme does not have any backdating or Second Adult Rebate provisions. 

Questions and Answers

Who has made the decision?

A  The Council met on the 31st January 2013 and took the decision

Q What is the Justification?

A  The Government has decided to abolish Council Tax Benefit from April 2013. Local Councils have been required to ‘design’ and adopt a scheme based on the national framework based on a 10% reduction in funding.

Q Did you consult?, When was the consultation carried out?

Yes we did consult the consultation started on the 1st August 2012. Letters were to those receiving Council Tax Benefit. The Council put out a press release and this detailed the Council’s public consultation events which ran in local village halls throughout September 2012 mainly in the afternoon through to 8pm in the evening. The changes have also been published in the South Cambs Magazine.

Q Can appeal against my Council tax support ?

A Yes we can send you a form to complete to ask for an appeal 

What can I do and where can I go for more information?

If these changes affect you, you should start making plans now. 

  • Talk to your landlord – discuss options available about transferring to a smaller home or taking in a lodger. 
  • Speak to the South Cambs Housing Benefits Service – you may be able to apply for a Discretionary Payment from the Council’s Discretionary Housing Payment fund.  However this is only a limited resource and is normally only awarded in exceptional circumstances 
  • We are working with the CAB and there  is an advisor here at the Cambourne Offices to offer financial advice and help you to prepare for these changes.  To make an appointment, contact the Benefits Team on 03450 450 061 
  • You may also find the Money Advice Service useful, which offers free, unbiased financial advice and money health checks that can be completed online helping you to make the most of your money.  Further information can be found on the money and services website.
  • You can get more information about Housing Benefit at Directgov who provides information on public services in one place.

Benefit Cap

From April 2013, the Government will introduce a cap (limit) on the total amount of benefits that working age people can receive. This means that those households on out-of-work benefits may no longer receive more in welfare benefit payments than the average weekly wage for working households.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have written to customers who may be affected by the cap.

The benefit cap will be implemented from April 2013, starting in four local authorities in London – Bromley, Croydon, Enfield and Haringey. These were chosen as London has the highest percentage of potential benefit cap claimants and a diverse cross section of residents. This will be a phased roll-out with the remaining local authorities implementing the cap from the 15 July 2013, with all appropriate households capped by the end September 2013.

For more information please visit the website.

Universal Credit (UC)

From October 2013, Universal Credit will replace all the means-tested benefits for working age people.  UC will have a phased introduction, starting with new claims. Existing claimants will continue to get HB from the LA, but these cases will be transferred to the DWP in phases between 2014 – 2017.

For more information please visit: the DWP website.

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