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. A summary of the changes are listed below:

  • Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

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

 For up to date information please visit: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/changes-to-employment-and-support-allowance

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.

For up to date information please visit: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/the-benefit-cap 

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.

For up to date information please visit: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/personal-independence-payment-pip

Important Changes to Housing Benefit:

  • 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.


  • 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.

For up to date information please visit: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/changes-to-housing-benefit

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a single means-benefit for working-age people aged 18 to 64 years old and is paid to each household. It will replace the following means-tested benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income-Based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Child Tax Credits
  • Working Tax Credits and 
  • Housing Benefit.

Universal Credit will be paid monthly by default but claimants can choose to receive payments twice monthly. The housing element of Universal Credit will be paid by default to your landlord on a monthly basis. 

At the start of a claim for Universal Credit the joint claimants must choose whether payment is made to one single account or whether to split payments across two accounts (there is no default option).

Claims for Universal Credit must be made online, and all subsequent contact regarding weekly rental charges will also be conducted online at www.nidirect.gov.uk/UniversalCredit 

If you would like further information and advise on Universal Credit, you can read our information booklet below or visit NI Direct for up to date information: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/universal-credit 

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.