Housing benefits are set to change

Changes to housing benefit and the introduction of the government’s new Universal Credit system will affect many Angus Council tenants.

The government’s welfare reform starts to roll out next April and many council tenants, along with those of other registered social landlords, will see a reduction in their housing benefits.

The three main changes which are set to affect tenants are:

Under occupation: from April 2013 tenants living in accommodation with more bedrooms than the legislation states that they need, will receive less housing benefit.

Non-dependant charges: there will be further increases in the deductions to housing benefit for household members aged 16 years and older who are not dependant on the tenants for financial support.

Universal Credit: from October 2013, a number of benefits, including job seekers allowance and housing benefit will be combined into one payment and made directly to the claimant. It is expected that housing costs will be included in the roll-out from April 2014.

The council’s housing spokesperson councillor Donald Morrison said: “We expect these changes will significantly impact on a good number of our tenants. Using the ‘size criteria’ in the legislation we have identified 615 tenants as under occupying their homes, excluding those living in temporary accommodation, and around 17% are under occupying by two or more rooms. This will mean a reduction in annual housing benefits of £283,000 with a weekly loss to tenants ranging from £2-£20 a week.”

He added: “Our main priorities are to minimise the risk to tenants and also to the council’s income, so we are working to assess the potential local impact and to help and support those who will be affected.

Councillor Morrison concluded: “I would urge anyone who is concerned about the impact of the welfare reform agenda to contact our ACCESSLine on 08452 777 778 as soon as possible”.