Benefit Advice

Get help and advice with your benefit claim 

Whether you are currently employed or unemployed you could be one of the millions of people missing out on financial help, benefits, tax credits or grants which are available to you…

Every year around £2.5 billion in benefits and services are left unclaimed. We understand the whole process of claiming benefits can be really confusing and we know it can be very hard to get the right information you need. That is why we are on hand to help guide you through getting the best advice to suit your financial needs.

Use an online Benefits Calculator

The first thing to do is find out if there is extra support out there for you. The quickest and easiest way to do this is through an online benefits calculator. It’s free to use and anonymous so you don’t have to worry about giving away private information.

The benefits calculator will be able to tell you:

  • What benefits you could get.
  • How to claim.
  • How your benefits will be affected if you start a job.
  • If there are any charitable grants you could apply for.

What information will I need to use the calculator?

In order to assess your circumstances and to see if you are eligible for any benefits or grants you will need to make sure you have the right information on:

  • Any savings or accounts you have – if yes, how much?
  • Your income or your partner’s income.
  • A list of any benefits or pensions you already have (including anybody who lives with you).
  • Your monthly spends (rent, mortgage and childcare costs).
  • Your council tax bill.

Find out now if you could be claiming and saving money with the benefits calculator.

Universal Credit

There are a lot of changes to welfare benefits which may affect you and the amount of benefits you receive. The government are now using Universal Credit as a way to pay people in one single monthly payment rather than making several payments for different benefits and tax credits. It also means that you are now responsible for paying your rent rather than the government.

By 2020 the government want everybody who is receiving certain benefits to be using Universal Credit so it’s important you are ready for the changes. If you are looking to make a benefit claim or you are already on benefits, see our Universal Credit page for more help.

If you need help advice or guidance about claiming benefits your local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) can assist you, find your local CAB branch online.

Caps on rents are coming to social housing

In the Autumn 2016 the Benefit Cap will be changing. DWP will advise affected customers directly, if you are affected you should also receive notification from your local Benefit Office. These letters will be issued starting 24th May 2016.
 
How is the Benefit Cap different this year

  • The level of the cap will be £384.62 per week for couples (with or without children) and lone parents (currently £500 per week) and £257.69 per week for single adults (currently £350 per week).
  • This equates to £20,000 and £13,400 annually.
  • Pension age customers are not affected.
  • This means that if a customer meeting the above circumstances has income from the benefits in excess of this amount their Housing Benefit will be restricted by the excess amount.

Benefit Cap Calculator

The government is changing the way the housing part of your benefit is calculated. Tenancies that start after 1 April 2016 are affected. Changes will be brought in from 1 April 2018 and any housing related benefits will be capped to the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rate.

If you rent a home and claim these benefits, you may be affected. The rules on LHA are complex. The key changes are:

  • under 35s living alone will receive the lowest LHA, the Shared Accommodation Rate
  • unlike the Under-occupation penalty (or bedroom tax) the rules on LHA apply to pensioners, so any spare bedrooms will be capped at the LHA rate
  • the maximum LHA rate you can receive is limited to the four bedroom rate even if your home is larger.

You need to understand these changes now so you can see how you could be affected. If your benefit is less than your rent and service charges, you are responsible for paying the difference.

If you claim housing related benefit and are affected by both the LHA cap and the spare room subsidy, the higher of the two deductions will be used (not both).

To find out how much you may be affected by looking at the LHA rates for your area at http://lha-direct.voa.gov.uk/Search.aspx

If you want to find out more about what it might mean for you and the support we may be able to provide then please just get in touch

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