Calculating Housing Benefit Maximum entitlement Dependant on type of tenancy = RSL, private tenant (LHA or old rules) Income Nearly all income and capital is taken into account Applicable amount The government provide figures for certain circumstances (single, couple, children, disabled etc) Entitlement HB Entitlement = (Maximum entitlement less 65% of (Income less applicable amount)) less deductions CTB Entitlement = (Maximum entitlement less 65% of (Income less applicable amount)) less deductions)
Challenges Recent Change in System Started training staff on 23 rd August 2010 Stopped working on the old system (closedown) on 2 nd November 2010 Started working on the new system (go-live) on 22 nd November 2010 Long Term Welfare Changes The new Government plan a radical overhaul of the Benefits system. The new look benefit system is planned for 3 years time Short / Medium term Benefit Changes Housing Benefits will be managed by Cannock Council from 1 st April 2011 The new Governments budget outlined changes to the Housing Benefit system. The first changes will come into effect from 1 st April 2011
The changes Effective from 1 st April 2011 the the rules will change to: end the maximum £15 weekly Housing Benefit excess reduce the LHA rate to the 30 th percentile take into account the cost of an additional bedroom providing property has a bedroom for a carer. remove the five bedroom Local Housing Allowance rate so that the maximum is four bedroom introduce absolute caps so for Local Housing Allowance weekly rates: £250 for a one bedroom property £290 for a two bedroom property £340 for a three bedroom property £400 for a four bedroom property Changes to Housing Benefit from April 2011
Effective dates of changes The anniversary date is the date a tenant first made the current claim. For example, if they claimed Housing Benefit on 5 May 2010, the anniversary date is 5 May 2011. Capping Will not directly effect any claims in Stafford £15 excess No longer payable for new claims from 1 st April 2011. Will stop for current claims on the anniversary date. Extra room for carers This will be effective from 1 st April 2011 Reduction in LHA rates (50 th percentile down to 30 th percentile) This is effective for new claims from 1 st April 2011 and anniversaries that fall on or after this date.
Transitional Protection Transitional protection is designed to ease the transition for current claimants. Current claimants who reach the LHA anniversary date without a significant change will be protected from the 5 bedroom and 30 th percentile change for 9 months. Significant changes that trigger the new rules A significant change is where the LHA rate would normally be reviewed; Change of address or change in family size Example A tenant is paid a 4 bedroom rate under LHA and receive £15 excess. Their anniversary is in May. 1.No significant change – Their LHA rate is reviewed in May 2011 and the new rate is £10 below their weekly gross rent. They would lose their £15 excess from May 2011 but be paid their gross rent for nine months. After nine months, they would be paid at £10 below their gross rent. 2.Significant change – In April 2011 a 17 year old moves into the property triggering a review of the LHA rate. The claimant is loses the £15 excess and is paid at the 30 th percentile LHA rate immediately (April 2011)
Reduction in LHA rates Example for February 2011
Direct Payments Amendment Regulations also extend from 1 April 2011 the circumstances in which HB may be paid directly to the landlord for cases assessed under the LHA arrangements. Payment can be made to the landlord if the LA considers it will assist the customer to secure a new tenancy or retain an existing tenancy. Stafford BC If it is clear that a new tenancy is dependant on direct payments to landlord, then we will make payments in this way. We will not change the payment destination for current claimants unless there is a significant change in circumstances. Where there is a significant change that triggers the new rules, we will make payments to landlord if it is clear that the tenancy is dependant on direct payments to landlord. We require documentary evidence before payments are switched to landlord.
Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) To cover things like Shortfall in eligible rent due to rent officer or LHA figures Shortfall due to tapers Shortfall due to non-dependant deductions Not for… Shortfall due to overpayments recovery Shortfall due to ineligible services Reductions in benefit due to sanctions Qualifying criteria HB must be in payment There must be a shortfall
Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) Deciding the amount Income (all income regardless if it is disregarded under HB regs) Expenditure Efforts to reduce shortfall Period Usually between 3 and 6 months Can re-apply, but efforts to reduce shortfall will be taken into account Funding For 2010 – 2011 £17,000 awarded in Stafford For 2011 – 2012 £17,462 funded by Central Government and a further £3,000 will be funded by Stafford BC Housing Options (£20,462)
Useful links The Valuation Office Agency is responsible for setting LHA rates. You can find LHA rates for an area by googling “LHA rates”. The Department of Work and Pensions provides the Local Authority with guidance on benefit regulations. You can look at the “frequently asked questions” sheet they have produced by googling “DWP LHA FAQ”