Benefits news and updates

Changes to free childcare

From September 2017 qualifying parents of children aged 3 and 4 are entitled to up to 30 hours free childcare. If you are receiving the increased hours then you must report this change of circumstances to the benefits section. Changes in circumstances should be reported online. For more information about whether you are entitled, and how to apply please visit the www.gov.uk website.

Temporary absence

From 28 July 2016 the rules regarding temporary absence from the home have changed. If you are travelling outside of Great Britain (including trips to Northern Ireland, The Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) for a period of more than four weeks you may not be entitled to continue to receive housing benefit. You must inform the benefits section if you, your partner or someone else who normally lives with you (such as a grown up son/daughter) is travelling outside of Great Britain for more than four weeks.

Freezing of local housing allowance rates

As announced in the summer budget, local housing allowance rates will be frozen for the next four years. From April 2016 the rates will remain at the April 2015 rate or will be set at the 30th percentile of local rates if this figure is lower. The new rates were published on 29 January 2016.

Maximum period for backdates claim is reduced to one month

From April 2016 the maximum period that a claim for housing benefit can be backdated to reduced from six months to one month.

Abolition of the family premium

From 1 May 2016 the family premium will no longer be awarded as part of the applicable amount. This means that the amount of money that the government determines that your household needs to live on will no longer include an amount for having dependent children. This will reduce the level of income at which maximum housing benefit can be paid. (If you are in receipt of a passported benefit such as income support, income based jobseekers allowance, income related employment and support allowance or guaranteed pension credit, then full housing benefit entitlement, subject to usual deductions, will continue).

If you are already in receipt of housing benefit on 30 April 2016, and you are responsible for a child or young person then this change will not affect your claim until you have a break in your claim or you cease to be responsible for a child or young person.

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