Will Welfare Changes Affect You?


The UK Government has introduced the biggest changes to the welfare and benefits system in over 60 years.  All benefit claimants, including those claiming Housing Benefit, are affected by these changes.  Some of these changes have already been introduced and many more will follow soon.  A summary of the changes and key dates are listed below:

27 February 2016:

  • Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

People aged 16-24 years can no longer receive contribution based ESA regardless of National Insurance Contributions 

31 May 2016: 

  • Benefit Capping

From 7th November 2016 the overall amount of benefit you can receive was capped to weekly amounts of:

  • £384.62 per week for lone parents or couples (with or without children)
  • £257.69 per week for single claimants.

The Government will add up how much money you get from a range of benefits, including: Bereavement Allowance, Carer’s Allowance, Child Benefit, Child Tax Credit, Employment and Support Allowance and Housing Benefit. If the total comes to more than the maximum amount allowed, your Housing Benefit payments will be reduced.

20 June 2016: 

  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

New claims for Disability Living Allowance were replaced with a new benefit called Personal Independence Payment for people aged 16 to 64 years. 

From December 2016 the Government began a programme of transferring existing DLA claims to Personal Independence Payment.

Important Changes to Housing Benefit:

5 September 2016:

  • The maximum period in which Housing Benefit can be backdated has been reduced to one month for working age claimants
  • Family premiums for households with a child or qualifying young person is no longer paid to new claimants.


February 2017:

  • Bedroom Tax (Social Sector Size Criteria)

The amount of Housing Benefit paid to people of working age was changed to reflect the size of their family.  Tenants of all social landlords now have their Housing Benefit payments reduced if they have more bedrooms in their home than their family needs. 

The new rules allow one bedroom for:

  • Each adult couple
  • Any other adult aged 16 or over
  • Any two children of the same sex aged under 16
  • Any two children aged under 10 regardless of gender
  • Any other child (other than a foster child or child whose main home is elsewhere)
  • A carer (or team of carers) who do not live with the claimant but provide overnight care.

 If you are considered to have more bedrooms than you need, your Housing Benefit will have been reduced by:

  • 14% for under-occupying by one bedroom
  • 25% for under-occupying by 2 or more bedrooms. 

 This affects all claimants of working age (up to 64 years).  People over pension age have not been affected by the bedroom tax.

If you are affected by the Bedroom Tax and would like to apply for alternative accommodation please see our Apply for Housing section where you can download a transfer application form and visit the Homeswapper website https://www.homeswapper.co.uk.

Universal Credit

September 2017:

Universal Credit is a new single benefit payment for people aged 18 to 64 years old. It is due to replace Tax Credits and income-related benefits such as: Income Support, income-based Jobseekers’ Allowance, income-related Employment and support Allowance and Housing Benefit.

Universal Credit will be paid once per calendar month but claimants can choose to receive payments fortnightly.  If you currently receive Housing Benefit, the housing element of Universal Credit will be paid directly to the Association. 

It is proposed that Universal Credit will be ‘digital by default’ meaning that the benefit application, and all future correspondence relating to the claim, will be carried out  online.  You can download a step by step guide to making and maintaining a Universal Credit claim online  below or by visiting https://www.communities-ni.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/communities/dfc-universal-credit-step-by-step-guide.pdf


Help and Advice 

If you are concerned about how the changes to the benefit system will affect you, information and advice can be obtained by contacting:

Make The Call:

Are you getting all the money you’re entitled to, or could you be entitled to more?

It’s easy to find out – Make the Call free to the Benefits Advice Line on 0800 232 1271 to find out if you’re missing out.  Alternatively, text CHECK to 67300 and an advisor will call you back.

All calls are confidential and a friend or relative can even make enquiries on your behalf.