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More changes to Housing Benefit/Universal Credit

The government has announced another change to Housing Benefit and help with rent through Universal Credit. This will take effect from April 2018. You may be affected by this change if your tenancy is dated from 1 April 2016 or after (or from 1 April 2017 or after if you are in supported housing). The amount of help you get towards your rent will be capped at the Local Housing Allowance rate that applies to you. If the amount you are entitled to under the Local Housing Allowance rules is less than the amount you would get under the ‘Bedroom Tax’ rules, the help you get will be based on the lower amount. So if the Local Housing Allowance rates in your area are lower than the amount of help you are entitled to at the moment, you may see a reduction in the help you can get from April 2018. You can check The Local Housing Allowance rates for your area here.


What this means

Housing Benefit is paid based on the needs of your household. If you live in a property with more bedrooms than your household needs then you will need to pay extra for those bedrooms.

How does the Government calculate a household’s needs?
Housing Benefit is calculated against the number of bedrooms the Government says you need. The rules are shown below.

People in household Bedroom entitlement:

Single adult/adult couple = One bedroom
Over 16s = One bedroom
Two children, same sex, under 16 = One bedroom
Two children, different sex, under 10 = One bedroom
Any other child = One bedroom
You can rent a home of any size or price but your Housing benefit amount will be restricted to the Local Housing Allowance rates shown below. If your Housing Benefit does not cover your rent, you will be responsible for paying the shortfall.

Local Housing Allowance rates

LHA St Helens: 

1 bedroom shared rate = £59.84 
1 bedroom = £80.55 
2 bedroom = £97.81 
3 bedroom = £113.92 
4 bedroom = £153.02 

Under 35s

If you are single, aged under 35, have no children and receive Housing Benefit, you will only receive Local Housing Allowance for a room in shared accommodation.
Examples: 

• A couple with a son of 8 and a daughter of 6 will require a two bedroom rate of Local Housing Allowance. One room for the couple and one room for the children as they are both under the age of ten.

• A single parent with a son of 11 and a daughter 14 will require a 3 room rate of Local Housing Allowance. One for the single parent, one for the son and one for the daughter as the children are over ten and the opposite sex. Even if they only occupy a two bedroom house they will have their benefit entitlement based on a three bedroom rate of Local Housing Allowance.

• A single parent with a one year old child. They are entitled to two bedrooms under LHA.

• A tenant who has a grown up non-dependent son living with him. They are entitled to two bedrooms under LHA.

• A Couple living on their own in a three bedroom property would only be entitled to one bedroom under LHA.

• A couple with three sons aged 11, 8 and 6. They are entitled to three bedrooms under LHA.

Will I also have to pay for any spare rooms?

If you are of working age and have one or more extra bedrooms, your rent and any service charges used in the assessment of your Housing Benefit [or the housing element of Universal Credit] is already capped. If the difference between your rent and the relevant Local Housing Allowance rate for your household is higher than the reduction for under-occupied bedrooms, only the cap will apply. Similarly, if the reduction for under-occupied bedrooms is higher than the relevant Local Housing Allowance rate for your household, only the reduction for under-occupied bedrooms will apply.

If you are of pension age, you will not receive a reduction in the rent used to assess your Housing Benefit for any under-occupied bedrooms but your rent will be capped to the relevant Local Housing Allowance rate for your household.