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What you need to know about welfare benefits

Universal credit

Single people claiming benefits for the first time are now awarded a new benefit called Universal Credit. Universal Credit, introduced in January 2015, is a new, simpler monthly payment combining some existing benefits and tax credits. Universal Credit must be managed online.

Universal Credit is being rolled out gradually and may not be available in your area yet. For more information visit our Universal Credit page

Bedroom tax

If you are of working age, receive housing benefit and have one or more spare bedrooms your housing benefit will be cut by 14% for one spare bedroom and by 25% for two or more. If you are finding it difficult to make up the shortfall in rent yourself, there are a number of things you can do, such as taking in a lodger or moving to a smaller home. You may also be eligible for a £500 incentive if you move. If you would like to discuss your options please get in touch with our lettings team on 0208 522 2260 or email customerservices@east-thames.co.uk.

Benefit cap

The government has announced plans to further reduce the benefit cap. From April 2016 the maximum amount of benefit for couples will be no more than £442 a week in London and £385 outside of London. For single people it will be no more than £296 a week in London and £258 a week outside of London.

Council tax reduction

In April 2013, Council Tax Benefit was replaced by local council tax support schemes. You may be eligible for Council Tax support if you are on a low income or claim benefits. The amount of council tax support varies between each borough. Contact your council to find out more about council tax support schemes.

Personal independent payment (PIP)

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is being replaced by the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for those aged between 16 and 64. PIP helps with some of the extra costs caused by long-term ill-health or a disability. If you are currently claiming DLA you will be contacted for reassessment, this is happening in a phased approach.

Non-dependent deductions

If you receive housing benefit and live with other adults in your property that could help you pay your rent, your housing benefit can be reduced by an amount called a non-dependent deduction. A non-dependent can be a parent, child, relative or friend who lives in your home. They must be aged 18 or over. Your partner, a joint tenant, temporary guests whose home is elsewhere and a lodger do not count as a non-dependent. The amount of deduction to your housing benefit depends on how much money the non-dependent earns or the benefits they receive. Non-dependents are expected to help towards paying the rent.