You will probably have seen on the news, read in the paper
or heard on the radio about the changes to benefits.
This leaflet gives information about the changes that could
affect your Housing Benefit and support that is available.
What is the Bedroom Tax?
Bedroom Tax means if you have any spare
bedrooms, your Housing Benefit will be
cut. The reduction is 14% per week for one
spare room and 25% per week for two or
more spare rooms.
So how does it work?
• You are entitled to one bedroom for
the main resident and partner, and one
bedroom for every other person over 16.
• For children under the age of 10, two
children are expected to share, and
between the ages of 10 and 16, children
must share if they are the same gender.
• If you share custody of a child, whoever
receives the Child Benefit will get the
bedroom allowance for that child.
Who will be affected?
If you are aged between 18 and 61 and
living in a Council or Housing Association
home, you could be affected by the
These changes will affect me
– what are my options?
You can either stay in your current home
and pay the extra rent, or move to a
smaller home. We can help you look for a
new place to live. As a resident of Viridian
you can also look for other people to
swap your home with. You can find
properties through the HomeSwapper
What is the Benefit Cap?
The Benefit Cap is a limit on how much you
can receive in benefits.
The new limits are:
• £500 per week (£26,000 per year) for
couples with or without children, and
• £350 per week (£18,200 per year) for
single people without children.
Who will be affected?
This change will affect everyone claiming
benefits and receiving more than the
amounts shown above. It is likely that
families with more than two children will
be affected the most.
If you add all your benefits up, not
forgetting those you don’t normally
receive yourself, such as Council Tax
Benefit and Housing Benefit, which are
paid directly to your landlord, this will help
you see if you are going to be affected by
the Benefit Cap.
The cap will not include Working Tax
Credits, Disability living Allowance/PIP or
war widows/widowers’ benefits.
What is Universal Credit?
Universal Credit is a new single monthly payment for people in or out of
work, which will replace some of the tax credits and benefits that you might
be getting now.
What is different about
Universal Credit will be paid in a different
way to your current benefits:
• it will be paid monthly into an account
that you choose
• if you get help with your rent, this will be
included in this monthly payment – you
will then be responsible for paying your
• if you and your partner are both eligible,
you will get one monthly payment for the
Universal Credit will generally be
managed online. You can make your
claim online, then check on your
payments and updates through your
Universal Credit will replace:
• Income-based Jobseeker’s
• Income-related Employment
and Support Allowance
• Income Support
• Child Tax Credit
• Working Tax Credit
• Housing Benefit
Other information about
If you are on a low income, you will
probably still get Universal Credit when
you first start a new job or increase your
Your Universal Credit won’t suddenly be
taken away, but as your earnings increase
the Universal Credit will reduce.
All Universal Credit claimants will have
a claimant commitment which clearly
sets out your responsibilities and the
consequences if you fail to meet these
You will have to pay your rent yourself
From 2013 onwards, Housing Benefit - and many other benefits - will be phased
out and replaced with Universal Credit. If your rent is being paid directly to
your landlord this will stop. Instead, your monthly Universal Credit payment will
include the money for your rent and you’ll need to arrange to pay it yourself.
To receive your Universal Credit payment, you will need to have an account that can receive
electronic payments. Here is a list of the different accounts available and what they offer.
Allows Direct Debits
and standing orders
Make rent your top priority
Basic bank account
offered by credit
Yes Yes Yes Yes
Yes (All basic bank
accounts and some
accounts offered by
Overdraft facility Yes No - Some accounts
offer a small buffer
Cash card with PIN
for cash machine
Yes - May be restricted
to provider’s own
Debit card Yes Sometimes No No
Cheque book Yes No No No
Credit checks when
Fees and charges
Yes No No No
Fees and interest
Penalties for returned
standing orders or
penalties for returned
standing orders or
Post Office ®
Universal Credit will be paid in one lump sum, so you may need to make some changes to
how you budget. It’s really important not to let this larger monthly payment tempt you
into spending money that you can’t afford.
Ensuring your home is paid for is extremely important, so always make your rent a top
priority, as it will be your responsibility to pay your rent to your landlord.
No penalties for
orders or Direct
Can only be used
at the Post Office.
Discretionary Housing Payment
What is a discretionary
housing payment (DHP)?
Each Local Authority Housing/Council Tax
Benefit department is given a pot of money
each year to help people who qualify for
Housing or Council Tax Benefit, but are
having trouble paying their rent or Council
Tax. The council decides who should be given
the payments. When the money for the year
runs out, no more payments can be made.
What can a DHP cover?
The payments cover a range of things
which include a shortfall between Housing
Benefit and rent.
How can you claim DHP?
Your local council has forms you can fill in
to submit a request for the payment.
What information should you
send with your claim?
You may be asked for details of your
income and outgoings. You could send
copies of relevant bills or bank statements.
You should also provide any information
about your circumstances that make things
difficult for you financially.
For more information contact your
Setting up a Direct Debit
Paying your rent by Direct
The best way to pay your rent, and prevent
getting into rent arrears, is to set up a
Direct Debit. This is easy to do.
What is a Direct Debit?
A Direct Debit is an instruction from you
to your bank or building society that lets
an organisation take a pre-agreed regular
payment from your account.
Direct Debits are handy for paying regular
bills, such as gas or electricity and rent.
What’s good about Direct
• Save time, effort and money – no
need to worry about remembering to
pay a bill, and lots of companies offer
discounts when you pay by Direct Debit.
• Paying by Direct Debit comes with
a guarantee, so the bank will pay
any incorrect payments back to you
How can you set up a Direct
A Direct Debit is set up by the organisation
collecting the payments. Usually you fill
in a form and send it to them, or set it up
online or over the phone. They’ll let your
You can also cancel a Direct Debit at any
time by contacting your bank directly.
Do they cost anything?
No – banks don’t charge you for setting up
or paying by Direct Debit.
Watch out! If you don’t have enough
money in your account, your bank
might not make the payment (and
they don’t have to tell you). If they
do make the payment you’ll go into
the red without noticing – which could
mean overdraft charges.
Who can use Direct Debit?
You usually need to be over 16 or
over 18 to set up a Direct Debit,
depending on your account, so check
with your bank or building society.
If you are worried about any of the changes, please discuss these concerns
with your Housing Officer. Alternatively you can contact one of the below
support services we are working with.
We are now partnering with StepChange Debt Charity who provide a free
debt advice service to help people who are struggling with the stress and worry of
debt. They are the UK’s largest debt advice charity, and help over 400,000 people
each year to manage and overcome their debt problems, with tailored advice to
suit their situation.
What free services does StepChange Debt Charity offer?
• Telephone and online debt advice
• Welfare Benefits check
• Debt Management Plan
• Bankruptcy and Debt Relief Orders
• How to deal with your mortgage lender
• Self-employed service for people who
• Specialist services for vulnerable clients
Call StepChange on: 0800 138 1111 and quote Viridian
All calls are free from mobile phones. Open 8am-8pm Mon-Fri 9am – 3pm Sat
Gingerbread provides expert advice and
practical support for single parent families.
If you would like to contact Gingerbread, their helpline number is
0808 802 0925. Further information about Gingerbread can be found on their
For more information please contact
Cowell House, 376 Clapham Road, London SW9 9AR
Phone: 0330 123 0220 Fax: 0203 202 3601
*All information was correct at the time of print
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