Welfare Reform

Since 2012, the government has made a number of significant changes to the benefits system. The following information will tell you about the key changes, how you might be affected, and who to contact if you have any questions.

Universal Credit

Being phased in over a four year period from October 2013, Universal Credit is a single monthly payment for people in or out of work, which merges together some existing benefits, including Housing Benefit.

It is paid directly into your bank account (Housing Benefit will no longer be paid directly to Lewisham Homes) and you will have to budget your rent, bills and spending. The best way to do this is by paying your rent by direct debit on the same day as your Universal Credit is received.

Find out more about Universal Credit and how we can support you.

Under occupation

The Government introduced what is known as  the Bedroom Tax in April 2013. It means that any working-age household deemed to be under-occupying their home will lose part of their Housing Benefit.

Housing Benefit is reduced by 14% if you have one extra bedroom and 25% if you have two extra bedrooms. It is not just people with spare bedrooms who this affects. The rules assume couples and single adults need their own bedroom. For children who live in the property full-time:

  • two boys or two girls aged under 16 will be assumed to share a bedroom
  • a boy and girl both aged under 10 will be assumed to share a bedroom

Contact our specialist Welfare Benefit Advisors if you have any questions on 0800 028 2 028. They can discuss your options, including:

  • taking advantage of training and employment opportunities on offer
  • discussing if you want to move to a smaller home
  • providing advice about taking in a lodger
  • provide other housing options if you are considering moving to a smaller home

Benefit cap

The government has capped total benefits to a maximum of £500 a week for families, and £350 a week for individuals. This cap includes job seeker’s allowance, housing benefit and child benefit, among others. It applies to everyone except people who receive working tax credit or disability living allowance, and war widows or widowers. A person who has worked for over a year and has lost their job will be exempt from the cap for 39 weeks.

Speak to one of our specialist welfare benefit advisors, if you are worried about not being able to pay your rent, call 0800 028 2 028 to book an appointment.