Will new Government welfare reforms affect you?

CHANGES to the housing benefit system across England will mean that some people who live in housing association rented accommodation, and who are in receipt of housing benefits, could receive less money in the future.

From April 2013, people in receipt of housing benefits who have more bedrooms than are needed for the number of people at the address, will receive a reduced housing benefit payment.

For those people with a spare bedroom the housing nenefits payment will automatically be reduced by 14% of the rent payable on the property, and those with two or more spare bedrooms will see a reduction of 25%. This will mean residents will have to make up the shortfall in rent themselves.

The only people who won’t be impacted by the changes are those that live in a one bed apartment or bedsit or those of the age to claim pension credits.

East Lindsey District Council has contacted local housing associations, asking that they inform their tenants of the changes, which are being introduced as part of the Government’s Welfare Reform Bill.

Councillor William Gray, portfolio holder for housing at the council, said: “The changes being introduced by the Government will have an impact on people living in East Lindsey and we need to ensure they are aware and are best prepared.

“Money is already tight for many families and we need people who think they could lose some money through the new scheme to start thinking about how they will make up the shortfall.”

If the Housing Benefit changes will affects you, there are a number of things you can do:

• Talk to your landlord about transferring to a smaller home or taking in a lodger.

• Register for an exchange via Homeswapper (www.homeswapper.co.uk).

• Get in touch with your local Citizens Advice Bureau by calling 08444 994199. (www.citizensadvice.org.uk).

• Make sure you are claiming all the benefits you’re entitled to.

• Try to find some paid work to increase your income.

Residents of working age who have a disability and need a spare bedroom so that a non-resident carer can stay overnight should contact the Housing Benefit helpline on 01507 609333 or the Citizens Advice Bureau on 08444 994199.