There are lots of changes taking place to the Welfare Benefits system this April and I’m sure that many people must be worried about how it affects them. So I thought I’d discuss these changes with our Financial Inclusion Officer so I could help anyone who asked me about them.
She explained to me that if you live in one of our properties and you have one or more ‘spare’ bedroom(s), your housing benefit may be reduced. Under the new rules, if you have more bedrooms than the Government says you need, you will lose part of your housing benefit.
If you think you may be affected or you are worried about being able to afford to pay your rent you can speak to us about different options and what you can do. Remember if you don’t pay your rent you could lose your home, don’t’ ignore it, ask for advice now. .
I can’t begin to tell you how helpful it was to sit down and discuss the changes. I learnt that the maximum amount of benefits you can claim will be capped and the Government will add up how much money you get from a range of benefits including housing benefit, jobseekers allowance employment support allowance child benefit, child tax credit and carer’s allowance. If the total comes to more than the maximum weekly amount allowed, your housing benefit will be reduced.
Universal Credit is a new single payment for people who are looking for work or on a low income and will be introduced from October. Although not everyone will transfer from the old benefits system immediately, new claimants will be affected immediately. With this new system you will need a bank account and if you don’t already have an account, you will need to open one.
We are all getting older and with the Welfare Reform changes, I am starting to think about the future and considering downsizing my home when the time comes. After all, why would I want to rattle around in a property which is too large for me when I can cut down my bills – rent, gas, electricity etc and make life a little bit easier? Life is challenging enough and anything that can improve a situation is definitely worth contemplating.
I was also interested in getting advice about transferring to a smaller more affordable home or taking in a lodger. For more information please check out these sites:
• Herts Choice Homes - www.hertschoicehomes.org.uk/register.aspx
• Homeswapper - www.homeswapper.co.uk
If you think that you may be affected by any of these changes and you would like some help or advice please call:
Chris Summers for benefits advice or help getting back to work: 01923 209015
Michelle Ewing for help with a transfer to a smaller property: 01923 209014
Amanda Hobbs for setting up a direct debit for your rent: 01923 209136
More detailed information can be found on our website at www.wcht.org.uk/welfare-reforms. For anything else happening at the Trust, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.