Benefits advice and assessment
- Category: Benefits
- Last Updated: 14 October 2016
The local authority benefit advisors offer benefit assessment and provide advice about entitlement to welfare benefits to individuals in receipt of benefit or claiming benefit.
What can it be used for?
Housing Benefit can help with rent payable to private landlords or housing associations.
Who can receive it?
Claimants who receive Income Support, Earnings Support Allowance, Income Based Job Seekers Allowance or the Guarantee Pension Credit are entitled to maximum Housing Benefit. Claimants with all other types of income will have their claim assessed based on their income and savings. In all these cases it will be necessary to supply up to date proof of all income, and savings. You can apply for Housing Benefit if you have capital/savings of £16,000 or less, or if you have more than this and are receiving Guarantee Pension Credit.
What can I receive?
The amount of benefit available to you varies as this is a means tested benefit and is based on your financial and personal circumstances.
Welfare Reforms 2013 onwards
The Welfare Reform Act 2012 introduces the most fundamental reforms to the social security system for 60 years. Aims for a simpler, fairer benefits system & to ensure work pays.
There are a number of major changes starting from April 2013 as follows:
- Universal Credit
- Housing Benefit (Social Sector Size Restriction)
- Social Fund (formerly Community Care Grants and Crisis Loans)
- Overall Benefit Cap
- Localised Council Tax Support (abolition of Council Tax Benefit)
- Personal Independence Payments (replacing Disability Living Allowance)
Claims for Universal Credit in Ryedale commenced on 16 February 2015 for new claimants who are:
- GB National or normally resident in GB
- Valid NINO
- Working age 18 years - 60 years +6mths
- Have bank or building society account
- Not be homeless or in supported housing
- Not own their own home (including part ownership)
- Not have more than £6000 savings and capital
Universal Credit will provide a new single system of means-tested support for working-age people in and out of work. Support for housing costs, children and childcare costs will be integrated in the new benefit. It will also provide elements for disabled people and carers.
Existing means-tested benefits that will no longer be paid include income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and Housing Benefit.
For those in work, financial support will be withdrawn at a single transparent rate as earnings increase to ensure that work always pays and is seen to pay.
Claims for Universal Credit are expected to be made online (by default) with payment of Universal Credit direct to the household.
From 1 April 2013 there will be changes in the way Housing Benefit is calculated for people who rent their home from the local council, a housing association or another provider of social housing. The regulations are for working age customers. Pensioners will not be affected by the new rules.
This means there will be restrictions on the size of property Housing Benefit will pay for, based on who lives in the property. If someone has more bedrooms in their accommodation than they need according to the new rules, they will be considered to be "under-occupying" that property and a percentage reduction will be applied to their eligible rent and service charges.
The new rules allow one bedroom for:
- every adult couple (married or unmarried)
- any other adult aged 16 or over
- any two children of the same sex aged under 16
- any two children aged under 10
- any other child
The amount of the percentage reduction will depend on how many extra bedrooms you have:
- 14% if you have one extra bedroom
- 25% if you have two or more extra bedrooms
The size limit rules will apply to anyone who is of working age and receives Housing Benefit for property where the landlord is a housing association or local council.
For a more detailed account of these changes and any other questions you may have download frequently asked questions for Social Size Criteria at the bottom of the page or email Benefit Services. A leaflet is also available to download on The National Housing Federation website.
From 6 April 2013 Community Care Grants and Crisis Loans for general living expenses which form part of the discretionary Social Fund will be abolished and replaced with the North Yorkshire Local Assistance Fund. For the Ryedale District area the new provision (Local Welfare Assistance) will be the responsibility of North Yorkshire County Council and you can download a leaflet on the subject from their website.
The Benefit Cap is a limit on the total out of work benefits that a family unit can receive with the aim being to ensure that workless households will no longer receive more in benefits than average working families (combined income after tax and national insurance)
A cap on the amount of benefit a household may receive so that these are in line with average weekly earnings (£500 per week for couples and lone parent households and £350 per week for single households).
The Benefits Cap will not apply where someone is entitled to:
- Attendance Allowance
- Disability Living Allowance and its replacement Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
- Employment and Support Allowance where the Support Component has been awarded.
- Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
- War Widow's/ Widower's Pension
- Working Tax Credit
There will be a grace period of 39 weeks when the cap will not apply for people who have been in work for 52 weeks or more (and have lost their job through no fault of their own) before they claim benefit.
Any excess amount over cap will be deducted from Housing Benefit.
Crisis Loan alignment payments will be replaced with a new national payment on account scheme.
As part of Welfare Reform Council Tax Benefit is being abolished and from 1 April 2013 was replaced with local schemes but will not form part of Universal Credit.
The Government is reducing annual grant payments for Council Tax support made to Local Authorities by 10% of current levels aiming to save £480 million annually and the grant will be cash limited.
Each local billing authority has to design and implement its own Localised Support for Council Tax (LSCT) scheme which will mean reduced financial assistance for working age people towards paying their Council Tax bills.
Pensioners are fully protected at the same levels of support as they received under Council Tax Benefit.
Any further information you may need about making a claim can be found in our Council Tax Support new claim webpage.
Personal Independence Payment (PIP) will be introduced for all new claims. The non-means tested payment helps with extra costs incurred and a new independent assessment will ensure support is targeted at those who need it.
Awards of Personal Independence Payment will be based upon the circumstances of the individual and will look at the impact of their disability or health condition on the ability to live independently and participate in society.
Over time, more than 2 million existing Disability Living Allowance claimants will be contacted to check their eligibility for the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP). It will take until 2016 to complete the reassessment process. The new fairer independent assessment will be delivered by a contracted provider and will help ensure financial support is better targeted. There will be a full roll-out of managed reassessment claims.
Reassessment activity to invite claims to PIP will end by March 2016 with some claims not completing the full reassessment activity until later in 2016.
Further information on Personal Independence Payments is available direct from the Department for Work and Pensions.
Information on any of these new Welfare Reforms can be found on the Governments new website www.gov.uk.