Significant changes are taking place to the welfare benefit system following the Welfare Reform Act in 2012. These reforms are beginning to happen now and will affect many working age tenants.
We know that many of you will be worried about the changes and what they could mean for you and your family. While we cannot stop the reforms, we can help by making you more aware of what's happening and when.
Check out the Welfare Reform Timeline below. This lists the key reforms month by month, plus gives a brief summary of the key points and a link to further reading.
We can also help you prepare for the changes, so if you are concerned about the impact on you and are unsure what you need to do, please speak to us.
You can ask your Housing Officer or contact Cairn's Welfare Benefits Advisor directly by email: Maggie.Magor@cairnha.com
Welfare Reform Timeline
UNDER-OCCUPANCY RULES (or the 'bedroom tax')
From April 2013, the Government have introduced new rules for Housing Benefit claims in social housing. Housing Benefit will now be cut for working age households who have spare bedrooms. The new rules mean that anyone with spare bedrooms will have their Housing Benefit cut by 14% for one extra bedroom and 25% for two or more bedrooms.
For more details of the new rules read our leaflet ‘Changes to Housing Benefit'.
You could be eligible for financial help if you have a shortfall in your Housing Benefit. Read about the assistance you could get in our guide to Discretionary Housing Payments
SCOTTISH WELFARE FUND
From April 2013, the Government abolished the discretionary Social Fund, which included Community Care Grants and Crisis Loans for living expenses. In it's place, is a new scheme called the Scottish Welfare Fund (SWF). This is run by local authorities based on guidance from Scottish Ministers. It takes the previous Social Fund rules as its starting point (the two types of grant are called CommunityCare Grants and Crisis Grants) but crucially takes 'local' priorities into account and local authorities have discretion to provide support in different ways.
Applications should be made direct to your local authority, find the detail here Scottish Welfare Fund contacts
PERSONAL INDEPENDENCE PAYMENTS (or PIPS)
From June 2013, there will be no new claim for working age people to Disability Living Allowance (DLA). If you need to claim benefit because of care needs or mobility issues, you will claim Personal Independence Payments.
Later this year, the Government will begin its programme of transferring existing DLA claimants between the ages of 16-64yrs onto PIPs. However, there is no automatic transfer of entitlement and all existing applicants will be 'invited' to submit a new claim to PIP.
For more information on PIPs read our article Focus on PIPs
From October 2013, a new single benefit called Universal Credit will replace a number of existing benefits for working age households. The benefits that will be replaced include: Housing Benefit, Income Support, Income-based Jobseekers Allowance & Income-based Employment Support Allowance, Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit
Universal Credit will be a single benefit, for those of working age, whether you work or not. The amount received will depend on your needs and circumstances.
Universal Credit will be paid monthly in arrears direct to you, normally into a bank account. This will mean that the replacement for Housing Benefit will also be paid directly to you. You will then be responsible for paying your rent to Cairn.
Some tenants will retain the option of having their rent money paid direct to Cairn; though the full details have yet to be released by the Department of Work and Pensions.
The first people to move to Universal Credit will be new claimants. All existing claimants will gradually transfer to Universal Credit by 2017.
There are also changes planned, for example to:
- Working Tax Credits
- Benefits for disabled people who are of working age
- Council Tax Benefit and Social Fund, and
- A maximum level of benefit a working age household can claim
For further details of these and other changes please visit Turn2us.
The situation is constantly changing. More details and guidance have been promised about how these changes will work in practice.
So watch this space...
Options available to you
If you are currently in receipt of Housing Benefit, whether full or partial, and you are going to be affected by the changes then there are options available to you:
Please note Cairn Housing Association take no responsibility for information contained on external links provided from this website.