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6 Maidstone Borough Council


Changes to housing support


Help for pensioners


The Welfare Reform Act introduces new rules for the size of accommodation that Housing Benefit, and then Universal Credit, will cover for working age tenants renting in the social sector. This will bring them in line with the private rented sector. These changes will not affect pensioners.


From April 2013 all current and future working age tenants renting from a council, housing association or other registered social landlord will receive housing support based on the need of their household.


The size criteria allows one bedroom for each person or couple living as part of the household with the following exceptions:


 children under 16 of the same gender are expected to share


 children under 10 are expected to share regardless of gender


 a disabled tenant or partner who needs a non-resident overnight carer will be allowed an extra room.


This means those tenants whose accommodation is larger than they need will receive less Housing Benefit. Those with one spare bedroom will lose 14 per cent of their Housing Benefit and those with two or more spare bedrooms will lose 25 per cent.


The tenant will have to pay the portion of rent not covered by the Housing Benefit, and later the Universal Credit, or move to smaller accommodation.


The council will write to tenants likely to be affected by these changes and anyone with concerns should contact the council, their landlord, or the Citizen’s Advice Bureau as soon as possible.


Existing claimants will move from Housing Benefit to Universal Credit between October 2013 and October 2017.


New claims for Housing Benefit from customers who are out of work will move to Universal Credit from October 2013 and new claims for Housing Benefit from customers who are working will move to Universal Credit from April 2014.


Social landlords such as Golding Homes and Moat Homes are able to offer advice. See page 7 for contact details of social landlords in the Maidstone area.


Help with Council Tax


Council Tax Benefit will be abolished in April 2013, and it will be down to local councils to provide localised support. Some people who have not paid Council Tax may now have to pay. However, the changes will not affect pensioners. The council will write to those affected by the changes.


Under the new system, customers over the qualifying age for Pension Credit will get help with their eligible rent through a new element of Pension Credit called Housing Credit.


This means:


 new customers over Pension Credit qualifying age will have to claim Pension Credit to access help with eligible rent from October 2014.


 existing Housing Benefit customers over Pension Credit qualifying age (with or without Pension Credit) will be transferred to modified Pension Credit, including Housing Credit, between October 2014 and October 2017.


 new claims for Housing Benefit from people over Pension Credit qualifying age received up to October 2014 will be dealt with as now.


The Pensions, Disability and Carers service will write to everyone affected by the changes. Anyone concerned about the changes should contact the council or the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, see page 7.


Social Fund


The Social Fund is currently looked after by the Department for Work and Pensions and is used to make payments to individuals in extreme need. It includes Community Care Grants, Crisis Loans for general living expenses, and Budgeting Loans. Kent County Council will take over the management of the fund for people living in Maidstone and other areas of Kent.


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