I received a very useful briefing recently from Alan Smith (pictured), housing officer at Hartsmere Borough Council, and he has kindly given me permission to reproduce this for you all.
Budgetary Changes being made to Housing Benefit
(NB: Except where stated, existing HB recipients will be affected from their tenancy anniversary, or possibly sooner if a change to the household means a new maximum Local Housing Allowance rent has to be determined)
From 1st April 2011:
- Removal of the 5 bed rate under LHA. Properties of 5 beds or more will now only get the 4 bed LHA rate
- LHA will be set at the 30th percentile of rents in each Broad Rental Market Area, rather than the median (e.g. using Sept 2010 figures, a 2-bed in Borehamwood will drop from £847 to £791pcm). From April 2011 for new tenancies: existing tenancies not affected until 9 months after their annual review date (i.e. at least January 2012).
- A new, nationwide, weekly upper limit will be introduced for each property size (1 bed, £250; 2 bed £290; 3 bed £340; 4 bed, £400)
- £15/wk excess provision currently payable to tenants within the LHA rules will be removed (as previously planned)
- Size-criteria adjusted to provide an additional room for a non-resident carer where a disabled person has an established need for overnight care. (LHA and LRR cases) (this change applies to all cases, new and ongoing, from 1st April 2011)
- Staged increase in non-dependant deductions (so that by 2014 rates will be at the level they would have been if uprated since 2001)
- Discretionary Housing Payment (top-up) fund increased from £20m to £30m for 2011/12
From April 2012:
- The single room rate will rise to apply to anyone up to 35 years old, instead of 25
- DHP fund increased from £30m to £60m for 2012/13 onwards
From April 2013:
- LHA rates will increase in line with the Consumer Price Index, not market rents
- Size criteria limits will be applied in the SOCIAL sector for working age tenants.
- Tenants on JSA for 12 months will have their housing benefit entitlement reduced by 10%
Undated but stated to be ‘starting in 2013 and finishing in the next parliament’:
- Universal Credit to be introduced. Full details yet to be confirmed by DWP, especially with regard to direct payment to landlords, and the proposed overall benefits cap (£26k/yr) regarding larger properties in more expensive areas
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