Important changes to Housing Benefit
Published: Mon, 21 Nov 2011
Housing Benefit is changing from 1st January 2012 for single people aged 25 to 34 who rent from a private landlord.
From that date, single people aged from 25 to 34 will only be entitled to the Housing Benefit shared accommodation rate. By single people we mean someone who is not living:
- as a couple
- with dependent children.
The shared accommodation rate is based on the level of local rents for properties that are not self contained. This usually means that there is a shared kitchen, bathroom, toilet or living room .
If you already get Housing Benefit at the one bedroom rate, your Housing Benefit may go down if you move to the shared accommodation rate.
If your Housing Benefit is paid directly to your landlord, the amount your landlord gets for your rent could go down.
If you are getting, or thinking of claiming Housing Benefit, you need to consider this change before you renew or make a new tenancy agreement with a private landlord.
Who will the changes affect?
These changes will affect you if you:
- rent accommodation from a private landlord
- already get Housing Benefit, or are going to make a new claim
- are single
- do not normally have children living with you
- are under 35 years old
- live in a self contained property
These changes will not affect you if you:
- rent from the Housing Executive or a housing association.
- are aged under 22 and have been in care.
- live in supported housing provided by a housing association, registered charity, voluntary organisation or Health Trust
- get the severe disability premium in your benefit because you are entitled to the middle or higher rate care component of the Disability Living Allowance.
- need an extra bedroom for a carer who provides you with the overnight care you need but who doesn’t normally live with you.
- have spent at least three months in a homeless hostel or hostel specialising in rehabilitating and resettling within the community. To benefit from this exemption you need to have been offered and accepted support services to enable you to be rehabilitated or resettled in the community.
- are managed under active multi-agency management under the Public Protection Arrangements for Northern Ireland.
When will the changes affect me?
If you are already getting Housing Benefit and it appears to us that you would be affected by the change, you will receive a letter from us providing you with details of the date on which your claim will be affected. If you have an existing claim and fall into the affected group described above and do not receive a letter by 9th December 2011, please contact your local HB Service Centre in person or by phoning 03448 920 902
If you live in a privately rented home and make a new claim for Housing Benefit from 1 January 2012, the change will affect you straight away.
Additional financial assistance
If you are affected by the changes, depending on where you live, your award of Housing Benefit may be between £20 and £40 per week less than what would have been payable before the change is introduced. You may be entitled to some additional financial assistance to meet this shortfall through a Discretionary Housing Payment. Such payments however cannot be guaranteed in all cases and any award may not cover the full shortfall. Awards are made for a limited period only and are designed to provide you with some time to come to alternative arrangements with your landlord or to find cheaper accommodation.
- Find out more about the Discretionary Payment Scheme
Shared accommodation rates
You can find out your local shared accommodation rate on this website.
- Get the current LHA rates for your area
You can also compare the shared accommodation rate with the one bedroom rate. You should note that these rates are those that apply at present and are subject to regular review and updating.
For more information, please contact your local HB Service Centre in person or by phoning 03448 920 902. Advice on Housing Benefit is also available from Citizens Advice Bureau, the Housing Rights Service and Advice NI.