Bedford Borough Council - Bedfordshire Advice Forum

real income
for many
This will
lead to extra pressure
 Claimants
 Advice agencies
Lee Phanco
 Support agencies / charities
Director (Revenues,
 Housing
Benefits and Customer Service)
 Bedford Borough Council
Bedford Borough Council
Council Tax Benefit Changes
• Council Tax Benefit abolished 31 March 2013
• Councils required to put in place local Council Tax
Reduction Schemes from 1 April 2013
• Statutory Scheme will protect pensioners
• A Default Scheme will apply if no local Scheme in
• Bills will be reduced by a Council Tax Support discount
not a benefit
• Government funding reduced by 10% (£1.147 million
for Bedford Borough)
Council Tax Reduction Schemes
• Council Tax Reduction Schemes must be agreed by
31 January 2013 following public consultation
• Bedford Borough Council agreed a Local Scheme on
16 January 2013
• Final Scheme differs from the original draft scheme to
secure new transitional grant from the Government
and in response to public consultation
• Government funding is fixed for the year
• The Scheme will be reviewed before April 2014
Bedford Borough Council Tax Reduction Scheme
• Applies to claims from working age applicants
Working age claims
Pension age claims
Total claims
Total households
• Based on 9 Key Principles
• Predominantly the national Default Scheme but with
some adjustments
• No one who would receive a 100% discount under the
Default Scheme will pay more than 8.5%
Bedford Borough Council - Key Principles
• Support for those households most in need
• Similar support for those in similar circumstances
• Support must be affordable for the Council
• All members of households with means should contribute
• Households with the means to pay should do so
• Those in larger properties should meet part of the cost
• Additional support for the transition to paid employment
• Evidence required to support all applications
• Fraudsters should not get full support for six months
Council Tax Reduction Scheme – Key Changes (1)
• No Second Adult Rebate Scheme (currently up to 25%
off the Council Tax bill)
• Discount for households in Council Tax Bands F, G
and H limited to 91.5%
o Typical Band F Council Tax £2,254 per year
o 8.5% = £192 or £3.70 per week
Council Tax Reduction Scheme – Key Changes (2)
• Deduction from weekly discount where a nondependant earns more than £401 per week will be
£11.90 (£0.95 higher than the Default Scheme)
• Where a sanction is imposed for Council Tax Support
fraud or Benefit fraud the discount will be limited to
91.5% for 6 months
Council Tax Reduction Scheme – No Change
• Income from war pensions disregarded in full
• Maximum amount of savings remains at £16,000
• Income disregards remain the same
• Extended payments remain the same
• Backdating – pensioners up to 3 months
• Backdating – working age up to 6 months where there
is good cause
• No changes to other non-dependant deductions
Council Tax Reduction Scheme – Practicalities
• Application process broadly the same – applicants
required to provide original documents to verify
• Expected that all live claims will automatically transfer
at 1 April 2013
• Eligibility assessed in a similar way
• Option to review claims every 6 months
• Right of appeal – but appeals to be heard by the
Valuation Tribunal in the same way as appeals about
other Council Tax discounts
Council Tax Reduction Scheme
• Thank you for listening
• There will be an optional questions and answers
session at the end of the presentations
Welfare Reform – Changes
to Housing Benefit
James Hurd IRRV (Hons), Compliance and Quality Officer
Revenues & Benefits Service
Story so far…
• Local Housing Allowance changes have reduced the
amount of Housing Benefit (HB) that can be awarded to
claimants renting in the private sector.
• Non-dependant deductions have increased considerably.
• Single persons aged under 35 entitled to the Shared
Accommodation Rate of LHA (i.e. the rent for a room in a
shared house), an increase from the age of 25.
In the short term:
There are some major changes planned for 2013:
• A restriction on under occupation in social housing.
• A overall Benefit Cap of £350 per week for a single
person and £500 for couples/families.
• LHA no longer reviewed on the anniversary of the claim.
• LHA annual increases now linked to Consumer Price
Index rather than actual rents
Restriction on Under Occupation
in Social Housing
• New restriction on how much Housing Benefit can be
paid when a Social Housing property is under occupied.
• Applies only to working age tenants.
• The current requirement is to apply a 14% reduction if
there is one room under occupied and 25% if there are
two or more rooms.
• Occupancy criteria the same as for private sector
tenants – one room for claimant and their partner, one
for every occupant over 16, one for every two children
under 10 (or under 16 if same gender)
Restriction on Under
Occupation in Social Housing
• There are certain exemptions:
 Shared ownership
 Pensioners
 Temporary accommodation
 Supported “exempt” accommodation
• No exemptions for disabled persons, unless due to
their disability there is someone who occasionally
stays over and cares for them.
• No assistance for Foster Carers, as both the
presence of the children and the income for the care
are disregarded.
Impact in Bedford Borough
• There are currently have 7,762 Social Sector claims
• Of these 5,297 are working age tenants
• Current estimate is that 1,260 will be restricted.
• The Council will be writing to all the tenants potentially
affected to:
– advise them of the change
– ask them if they think they will fall into one of the
exemption categories
Options to Cope with the
• Inform the Council if an exemption applies
• Pay rent that is due – typically around £14 per week for
one spare bedroom, £25+ for two or more
• Move to a smaller property
• Request a transfer or exchange
• Take in a lodger or a non-dependant adult
• Council can award Discretionary Housing Payment in
exceptional circumstances (but funding is limited)
Overall Benefit Cap
• The maximum income from Benefits will be the capped
at the national average of earnings – which is £500 per
week for a family and £350 for a single person.
• It will be calculated by adding together benefit income
such as:
– Any “out of work benefit” (JSA, IS or ESA)
– Award of Housing Benefit
– Child Tax Credit
– Child Benefit
• Where this is over £500 then Housing Benefit will be
reduced pound for pound – some families may lose all
their Housing Benefit.
Benefit Cap
• Exceptions apply where someone in the household is:
– Working and entitled to WTC
– In receipt of DLA, AA or the Support Component of ESA
• The Government’s stated aim is to get people into work.
• Job Centre Plus is writing to those likely to be affected
offering support to find work.
• Still not entirely clear which households will be affected –
work in progress across the Council and other agencies
to identify those affected.
Impact of Benefit Cap in Bedford
• Will mainly affect families with three or more children.
• Any family with five or more children is likely to see their
entire entitlement to HB removed (except for a statutory
minimum of 50p per week).
• Current estimates suggest up to 100 households may be
affected – 10 likely to receive the minimum.
• The Cap was due to commence in April 2013, but will
now be piloted in four London Boroughs first.
• To be rolled out nationally in ‘summer 2013’ – dates for
Bedford yet to be confirmed.
Direct Payments to Tenants
• There are no plans to change how the Council pays
Housing Benefit.
• Currently, Housing Association tenants can ask for
their HB to be paid direct to their landlord.
• Private tenants have to justify direct payments to their
landlord – either due to difficulties handling money or
as a condition of the tenancy.
• However, current indications are that where Universal
Credit is paid (for new claims after October 2013) the
Universal Credit will be paid direct to the claimant
Universal Credit:
• Universal Credit will replace a number of means tested
benefits including Housing Benefit (but not Council Tax
• No new claims for Housing Benefit after April 2014, and
then a phased migration to Universal Credit by 2017.
• Universal Credit likely to be paid direct to the claimant.
• Pensioners claiming Housing Benefit to be migrated to a
new housing element of Pension Credit from October
2014 onwards.
• Councils will continue to be responsible for Supported
Accommodation costs – but no details available yet.
Housing Benefit Changes
• Thank you for listening
• There will be an optional questions and answers
session at the end of the presentations
Local Welfare Provision
Mrs S M Audin
Head of Revenues & Benefits
 From April 2013 Local Authorities will put in place a scheme
of Local Welfare Provision
 A proportion of the funding previously allocated to the
Community Care Grant and Crisis Loan element of the Social
Fund will be provided to enable them to assist persons in
 The proposed policy for the delivery of Local Welfare
Provision in Bedford is out for public consultation so that the
final policy may be agreed to take effect from 1 April 2013
Proposed Council Policy
 The Council will not need to replicate the current provision
however the current criteria for the awards is a good basis
for the development for the local policy
 Full document out to consultation on the Council’s website
 So what does the Council’s Policy look like:-
Proposed Policy
 Two forms of payment available to residents in need
• Crisis Grants
• Home In the Community Grants
 In general, grants will only be awarded where sufficient
financial resources allocated for that purpose are
available and
 Grants will only be awarded to persons habitually
resident in Bedford
Crisis Grants
 These grants will provide immediate assistance to
qualifying residents experiencing an emergency that
jeopardises their health or safety, for example:
 Food, fuel/energy costs
 Goods for infants/children
 Essential clothing
 It is anticipated that most awards will be for less than £50
and limited to two awards in a any one year
Home in the Community Grant
• To assist vulnerable persons to settle and form part of the
community or to remain in their home
• For example:
– House fire/flood or other major emergency
– Breakdown of a relationship/fleeing domestic violence
– Leaving institutional/long term care
 It is anticipated that awards will limited to a maximum of
£1,500 and only one in any twelve month period
Restricted Items
• It is proposed that assistance will not be provided for certain
• Generally the same items that are currently restricted under the
Social Fund
• Housing costs, including rent, will not be paid from Local
Welfare Provision
• Taxes, debt and insolvency costs, care provision, legal costs and
medical prescription items are also excluded
Application Process
 There will be no provision for applications for grants to be
made in person
 Requests must be made by telephone to the number
provided for that purpose by the Council
 Will normally make a decision on Crisis Grants immediately
 Will aim to make a decision on Home in the Community
Grants within a few days
Application Process …continued
 The Council may at its discretion consider an application
received for a Crisis Grant as an application for Home in the
Community Grant and vice versa
• There is an intention to liaise with other supporting agencies
such as:
– Social workers
– Probation workers
– Medical staff
Local Welfare Provision
• Thank you for listening
• There will be an optional questions and answers
session at the end of the presentations

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