Amendments to housing benefits and advice for landlords
The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has announced several changes to benefits that could have a direct affect on landlords and tenants within the private sector. The changes are shown below.
Universal Credit (UC) changes
An overview of UC can be found on the Scottish Government website . The following points are the main changes to UC.
The work allowance in UC, the amount the claimant can earn without benefit being affected, was reduced in April 2016. For disabled people and people with children, it was reduced to £192 per month if there are housing costs (previously housing benefit) and £397 per month if no housing costs. The work allowance was abolished altogether in April 2016 for non-disabled, childless claimants, meaning benefit is reduced as soon as you start earning. Check DWP for further information.
Benefit cap reduced
There is currently a benefit cap in place in England, Scotland and Wales, which restricts the amount of certain benefits that a working age household can receive. Any household receiving more than the cap has their Housing Benefit reduced to bring them back within the limit.
From Autumn 2016, the cap, which is currently £26,000 per year, is to be reduced to £23,000 for households living in London and to £20,000 for those outside London. The exact date from which you will be affected will depend on where you live. Check DWP for further information.
Digital Roll out for East Lothian
East Lothian is the first local authority in Scotland to have UC Full Service.
From 23 March 2016, East Lothian has offered the UC Full Service for all new benefit claims, which include those who are in and out of work, on low incomes, those with disabilities, couples and families.
A reminder that a UC toolkit is available for landlords which provides more information about UC and provides assistance when dealing with vulnerable tenants, for issues such as:
- how to arrange direct payment of UC to landlords
- how to access budgeting advice for tenants