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More changes to Housing Benefit/Universal Credit

Local Housing Allowance Cap

This welfare reform has been scrapped! The government had planned to reduce Housing Benefit and help with housing costs through Universal Credit for some social housing tenants from April 2019. However, this change is now not going ahead.  The government is, instead, proposing changes to the way supported housing is funded from April 2020.

Backdating a Housing Benefit Claim

If you are under “Pension Credit age” and you ask for a Housing Benefit claim to be “backdated” this can only be allowed for up to one calendar month from the date you ask for it. A backdate is when you haven’t claimed in time and you want the Housing Benefit office to pay your Housing benefit from an earlier date. If you are under “Pension Credit age” you have to show that you had a very good reason for not claiming earlier. This new rule came in from April 2016, before that a backdate could be for up to six months.
If you are making your new claim because your previous claim was terminated, it is worth checking to see whether you can challenge the decision to end your previous claim. If your previous claim can be reinstated, there will be no gap in entitlement.  If you are “Pension Credit age” you can still request a backdate of up to 3 months.

Going Abroad

If you go abroad for longer than 4 weeks, you won’t get any Housing Benefit (Universal Credit) while you are away. There are exceptions – there is a 26-week limit for certain people who are abroad due to a particular type of work as listed in the Regulations (eg armed forces, mariners), some people fleeing domestic violence or if you are in hospital or undergoing medical treatment abroad. The time limit of 4 weeks can be extended by up to a further 4 weeks if you are abroad due to the death of a close relative and the Housing Benefit Office considers it unreasonable to expect you to return within 4 weeks. If you go to Northern Ireland, this counts as abroad under the new rules; they affect anyone away from Great Britain. When you go abroad you must intend to return within the 4 (or 8 or 26) weeks and actually be back home within that time period to be able to receive Housing Benefit for the period you are away.  These new rules have been in place since 28 July 2016.

If someone who normally lives with you is going to be staying in the property they might be able to claim Housing Benefit instead.