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Mind the benefits cap (again)

Mind the benefits cap (again)

February 24, 2017
Benefits

If you receive benefits you may be affected by changes that came into force recently, limiting the amount you can receive. It is not too late to get help.

A ‘benefit cap’ was introduced by the government in 2013 to limit the maximum amount that working age households can receive. This cap, and the list of benefits affected by it, was changed in November 2016. However, it was then extended again to include even more households from January 2017.

HOW CAN I FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE CAP?

Visit www.gov.uk or call the DWP benefits cap helpline 0345 605 7064.

IF I AM AFFECTED WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS?

If your housing benefit is reduced by a small amount per week you may be able to:

  • Budget to find extra income to pay the shortfall
  • Negotiate a rent reduction with your landlord if you are a private tenant or move to cheaper accommodation. You may need to look in different areas where the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates are lower. This will reduce your housing benefit and hence reduce the impact of the benefit cap. To check the LHA rates you can search areas by postcode at www.gov.uk/guidance/local-housing-allowance

If the benefit cap reduces your housing benefit by a large amount per week you can consider the following options:

  • Call the DWP benefits cap helpline 0345 605 7064
  • Work 16 hours per week or more if you are single (including lone parents); or work 24 hours or more per week if you are a couple. By doing so you could qualify for Working Tax Credit and receiving this can exempt you from the benefit cap.
OTHER HELP AND SUPPORT

Ealing Council’s local welfare assistance team can assist you by advising you on jobs, your bills and applying for one-off crisis payments to help you with living expenses in the short term.

You can also find out if you might qualify to apply for a discretionary housing payment to help with your rent shortfall. Payments are made at the council’s discretion and each case is considered on its merits.

Contact the local welfare assistance team by email at localwelfareassistance@ealing.gov.uk or, for more information about housing benefit and council tax support, go to www.ealing.gov.uk/housing