Backdating a Housing Benefit Claim
If you are under “Pension Credit age” and you ask for a Housing Benefit claim to be “backdated” this can only be allowed for up to one calendar month from the date you ask for it. A backdate is when you haven’t claimed in time and you want the Housing Benefit office to pay your Housing benefit from an earlier date. If you are under “Pension Credit age” you have to show that you had a very good reason for not claiming earlier. This new rule came in from April 2016, before that a backdate could be for up to six months. If you are “Pension Credit age” you can still request a backdate of up to 3 months.
If go abroad for longer than 4 weeks, you won’t get any Housing Benefit (Universal Credit) while you are away. There are exceptions – there is a 26-week limit for certain people who are abroad due to a particular type of work as listed in the Regulations (eg armed forces, mariners), some people fleeing domestic violence or if you are in hospital or undergoing medical treatment abroad. The time limit of 4 weeks can be extended by up to a further 4 weeks if you are abroad due to the death of a close relative and the Housing Benefit Office considers it unreasonable to expect you to return within 4 weeks. If you go to Northern Ireland, this counts as abroad under the new rules; they affect anyone away from Great Britain. When you go abroad you must intend to return within the 4 (or 8 or 26) weeks and actually be back home within that time period to be able to receive Housing Benefit for the period you are away. These new rules have been in place since 28 July 2016.
If someone who normally lives with you is going to be staying in the property they might be able to claim Housing Benefit instead – contact us for advice
Two Child Limit for Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit and Universal Credit
The government is proposing to introduce a two child limit into Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit and Universal Credit. Until the government publish any changes to the law, we can only provide basic information on these proposals. The information below is based on the information available at the moment and is subject to change.
If you get Child Tax Credit, you already have 2 or more dependent children in your family and you have another child or children on or after 6 April 2017, your Child Tax Credit will only increase if that child is disabled and you get Disability Living Allowance for them and/or you have to pay for registered childcare for them. The Housing Benefit rules will be changed in the same way.
Gerry and Sonia claim Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and Housing Benefit to top up Gerry’s wages. They have 4 children aged between 10 and 3. They have a new baby, born in May 2017. The baby has no health conditions or disabilities and Sonia does not work, so they do not pay for any childcare. They will not get any extra Child Tax Credit for the new baby nor any extra Housing Benefit.
Similarly, if you are already claiming Universal Credit and you have 2 or more children, you may not get any extra child elements for any new children in your family from April 2017 onwards (but you would get a disabled child element if applicable).
There will be some exceptions to the rules, including for multiple births. So, for example, if you have no dependent children but then give birth to triplets on or after 6 April 2017, or if you already have one dependent child, then you give birth to twins on or after 6 April 2017, you will receive extra Child Tax Credit, Housing Benefit for all those children. If you are an existing Universal Credit claimant, you will receive extra Universal Credit. If you are concerned about these changes, please contact us.
Changes for 18-21 year olds
This change may affect you if yo uare single, 18-21 and getting Universal Credit under the ‘full’ (digital) service and who take on a new tenancy from April 2017 onwards.
If you take on a new tenancy from April 2017 onwards, or you come off Universal Credit and then make a new claim, you may not be entitled to help towards your rent.
However, certain groups still be able to get help with their housing costs:
- parents (both lone parents and couples),
- certain carers
- those who the DWP consider to be unfit for work
- certain vulnerable people
- young people unable to live with parents,
- working young people, earning more than 16 hours per week x the appropriate minimum wage and
- those who have been in work for 6 months or more - for the first 6 months after leaving work.
Even if they are claiming Universal Credit, 18-21 year olds who are in certain types of supported accommodation will get help with their rent through Housing Benefit rather than through Universal Credit. This change will not affect Housing Benefit claims.
Changes to Housing Benefit and Universal Credit from 2019
The amount of help you get towards your rent may be capped at the Local Housing Allowance rate that applies to you. If the amount you are entitled to under the Local Housing Allowance rules is less than the amount you would get under the ‘Bedroom Tax’ rules, the help you get will be based on the lower amount. So if the Local Housing Allowance rates in your area are lower than the amount of help you are entitled to at the moment, you may see a reduction in the help you can get from April 2018. You can check The Local Housing Allowance rates for your area can be found here
Will this apply to me?
You could be affected by this change from April 2019 if:
- You live in ‘general needs’ housing, you are claiming help with your rent via Housing Benefit and you took on your tenancy on or after 1 April 2016.
- You live in ‘general needs’ housing and you are claiming help with your rent via Universal Credit. (It does not matter when you took on your tenancy).
- You live in supported or sheltered accommodation. (It does not matter when you took on your tenancy). The lowest ‘Shared Accommodation Rate’ of the Local Housing Allowance will not apply to anyone in supported accommodation.
Will anyone not be affected?
You will not be affected by this change if all the following apply on 1 April 2019:
- you live in ‘general needs’ (ie not supported) accommodation and
- you took on your tenancy before 1 April 2016 and
- you are still receiving help with your housing costs through Housing Benefit – ie you have not yet had to make a claim for Universal Credit
Don’t forget - if the changes do apply to you, but the amount of rent can get help towards under the ‘bedroom tax’ rules is less than the Local Housing Allowance rate for you, the help you get towards your rent will not change due to this new rule. Please contact us if you are concerned about this change.