Residents are being warned about several changes affecting benefit claims this year. Stafford Borough Council is urging people to find out how they may be affected.
The government changes taking place include:
Limiting backdating in Housing Benefit: Claims for people of working age will be backdated for a maximum of four weeks instead of the current six months. This could affect someone who suddenly finds themselves out of work.
Removal of Housing Benefit Family Premium:
This is being withdrawn for new claims made or children born after the 1 May 2016.
Freeze to Local Housing Allowance:
Payable to those who rent from a private landlord, there will be a four-year freeze to rates.
Universal Credit – Roll out in Stafford:
Single claimants will get Universal Credit instead of Housing Benefit. The local authority can, however, provide help with budgeting and claiming online.
Benefit Cap reduction:
The annual cap for families will be reduced in 2016 to £20,000 or £13,400 for single adults. This equates to £384.62 p/wk for couples and lone parents and £257.69 for single adults.
New National Living Wage:
Starting at £7.20 an hour for workers aged 25 and above. Rising to £9 an hour by 2020. Any change in income will affect Housing Benefit claimants.
People can find more information about the welfare changes by logging onto www.staffordbc.gov.uk/benefits