Welfare Reform - Benefits Are Changing
Welcome to Birmingham City Council's guide to the government's benefit changes (also known as Welfare Reform).
The government has introduced some major changes through the Welfare Reform Act, which will affect many Birmingham citizens.
This guide explains what the changes are and how they could affect you, so that you can prepare for them. It also gives guidance on the options available to you and where you can go for help.
You will remain responsible for paying any shortfall in the rent on time, and keeping your account up to date.
Who will be affected?
People of working age will be affected if they claim Tax Credits, welfare or Housing Benefit.
If you are of pensionable age on 1 April 2013, these changes will not affect you. You can find out your pensionable age at www.gov.uk/calculate-state-pension.
What are the changes?
Use the links below to find out about the different benefit changes.
Change 1 - Under-occupation (or Social Sector Size Criteria Restrictions)
From April 2013, any household that the government says has more bedrooms than they need, will receive less Housing Benefit.
Change 2 - Benefit Cap
The government intends to place a 'cap' on the total amount of benefit that working age people can receive. This will be introduced in Birmingham by the end of September 2013. We will update the page when the government releases all the details.
Change 3 - Universal Credit
From October 2013, a number of benefits that are currently paid separately will be brought together into one payment called Universal Credit.
Change 4 - Council Tax Support
From April 2013, Council Tax Benefit is to be abolished and replaced by a new local financial support scheme, called Council Tax Support.
Change 5 - Local Welfare Provision
From April 2013, a new local fund is being set up to replace the government’s national crisis loans and community care grants, formerly paid through the Social Fund.
Change 8 - Uprating
Future benefit increases will be capped at 1% annually. Most working age benefits are to rise by 1% for each of the next three years. This is lower than expected price rises, leaving people with less money to spend.
Welfare Reform - Checklist
You can use the checklist below to prepare for some of the Welfare Reform changes.
- Check whether I have to pay because I am under-occupying my property by using the online tool
- Check whether I will be affected by the Benefit Cap
- Set up a Basic Bank Account in preparation for Universal Credit
- Download or use an online budget planner to help me budget
- Set up Direct Debit to pay my rent now or in the future
Further advice and guidance
If you are a Birmingham City Council tenant, you can get advice on how you are affected by contacting the Rent Service on 0121 675 2006. They can discuss the options available to you, or refer you to a free independent debt advice service.
If you are not a Birmingham City Council tenant, you should contact your landlord directly.
If you're worried that the benefit changes will reduce the money you have coming in, it's a good idea to start thinking ahead. Use the links below to help you plan and get further online advice.
Loan Sharks - Find out how to get help if you have been affected by illegal money lenders (also known as loan sharks).
Benefit Calculator - Get an estimate of what benefits you could get (including Housing Benefit).
Make a Housing Benefit claim online - If you are having problems paying your rent or Council Tax, then you might be able to get help towards paying these bills.
Report a change in circumstances to Benefits - If your circumstances have changed report this online to Benefit Services.
The Money Advice Service - Carry out a free online money health check or use some of the other helpful online tools, such as the money stretcher calculator.
Citizens Advice Bureau - Get free online advice on your rights including benefits, housing, employment, debt and legal matters.
Birmingham City Council Debt Advice Service - The Debt Advice Team takes a realistic and practical approach to helping people who are experiencing severe debt problems.
Department of Work and Pensions - Get information on benefits, pensions and jobs.
Citysave Credit Union - This is a community based financial organisation. It offers accounts such as savings, bill payment and budgeting and loans.