Universal Credit, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction

Torfaen residents - From 12th July 2017 the ‘Full Service’ of Universal Credit will be rolled out within Torfaen and this means that if you are of working-age you will no longer be able to make a new claim for Housing Benefit for your housing costs. You will need to claim Universal Credit instead. However, there are some exceptions to this change and further information about this is detailed below.

Monmouthshire residents – The ‘Full Service’ of Universal Credit starts in your area on 27 June 2018.

Please note that you will not be able to claim help with your Council Tax within Universal Credit - You will still need to apply for Council Tax Reduction with us by calling our New Claims Team on 0300 4563559 or alternatively, completing our online application form.

Universal Credit

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a simple, single payment for people out of work or in work and on a low income. It merges six existing ‘legacy’ benefits into one payment:

  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit

Please note - If you are living in supported housing your claim for Universal Credit will not include any housing costs. You will still need to claim Housing Benefit with us. You will also still need to claim Housing Benefit and the old ‘legacy’ benefits if you have more than two children.

Natural Migration 

If you're already claiming one or more of the benefits being phased out, you should carry on claiming as normal. However, if you report a qualifying change of circumstance to your legacy benefit you may move over to Universal Credit. Some examples of changes which will trigger the move are:

  • You are a lone parent in receipt of Income Support and your youngest child turns 5 or permanently leaves the household
  • You become responsible for a child for the first time
  • You stop working due to sickness
  • You move address into a full service area
  • You are claiming tax credits and separate from your partner

How is Universal Credit different?

Universal Credit will be paid differently to current benefits. You will get a single payment for your household and it will be paid once a month into your bank, building society, Post Office or credit union account.

If your Universal Credit payment includes rent you will need to pay this to your landlord yourself.

However, in certain circumstances, Alternative Payment Arrangements will be available to help claimants who are identified as needing additional support .This includes paying the housing costs element to your landlord.

Personal Budgeting Support

You will also be offered Personal Budgeting Support if you are deemed vulnerable and needing money advice to help you to cope with managing your money on a monthly basis and paying your bills on time. You can receive support at any time once your claim for Universal Credit has been made. Please contact the Benefits department on 01495 742377 or email us at benefits@torfaen.gov.uk.

Discretionary Housing Payments

Discretionary Housing Payments are payments that may be made by the Council to people that are receiving Universal Credit towards their housing costs but who may still need further financial help towards paying their rent.

How to claim Universal Credit

You will need to apply for Universal Credit online on the GOV.UK website. If you do not have internet access, you will able to use computers at your local Jobcentre Plus Office. The Council will also be able to provide internet access points, support and face-to-face advice in our customer centres in Torfaen (Pontypool, Cwmbran or Blaenavon). Internet access is available in our local libraries.

In exceptional circumstances, you may be able to claim by phone or with a home visit. You should contact the Universal Credit helpline on 0345 600 07233 to explain your circumstances and ask if this is possible.

Please note - The Council can also offer advice and assistance if you need help in making a claim for Universal Credit. Contact the New Claims Team via email benefitapplication@torfaen.gov.uk or call 0300 456 3559.

18-21 year olds

Universal Credit will not cover housing costs for 18-21 year olds. However, there are some exceptions to this rule which include:

  • If you are responsible for a child
  • If you receive a disability benefit
  • If you are a care leaver
  • If you live in temporary accommodation

For more detailed information please visit www.gov.uk/universalcredit

Free School Meals

You may also be entitled to Free School Meals if you claim Universal Credit. Please contact us for further information.

Housing Benefit

What is Housing Benefit?

The Housing Benefit scheme is run by local councils on behalf of the Government and can help you pay your rent if you are on a low income.

Will I be able to get Housing Benefit?

For most working-age customers in Torfaen who are making a new claim for help towards paying rent or have a change in their circumstances, Housing Benefit payments are being replaced by Universal Credit. Monmouthshire residents can continue to claim Housing Benefit until 27 June 2018. People of pension age are not affected by this change and can still apply for Housing Benefit.

To be able to claim Housing Benefit you must:

  • Be liable to pay rent; and
  • Be resident in the property you are claiming for.

You cannot usually get Housing Benefit if:

  • You have over £16,000 in savings, investments and property between yourself and your partner (unless you get Guaranteed Pension Credit).
  • You are renting from a resident relative.
  • You are renting from a former partner.
  • You are responsible for your landlord’s child.
  • You have no recourse to public funds due to your immigration status.
  • You are a full time student, without children or any disabilities.

How much Housing Benefit could I qualify for and how do I apply?

Please use our online Benefits Calculator to see how much you might be entitled to and to apply. Alternatively, you can contact the New Claims Team via email at benefitapplication@torfaen.gov.uk or call 0300 456 3559 who will talk you through the process.

Council Tax Reduction

What is Council Tax Reduction?

The Council Tax Reduction scheme is administered by local councils on behalf of the Welsh Government and can help you pay your Council Tax if you are on a low income. If you are entitled to a Council Tax Reduction your Council Tax bill is reduced.

Will I be able to get a Council Tax Reduction?

If you are an owner occupier or living in rented accommodation and responsible for the Council Tax bill you may be able to claim Council Tax Reduction. You could qualify if you are in receipt of benefits, Universal Credit or if you are working and on a low wage

To be able to claim Council Tax Reduction you must:

  • Be on a low income; and
  • Be the person responsible for paying the Council Tax

You cannot usually get Council Tax Reduction if:

  • You have over £16,000 in savings, investments and property between yourself and your partner (unless you get Guaranteed Pension Credit).

How much Council Tax Reduction could I qualify for and how do I apply?

The amount of reduction you may receive depends on your income, savings and household circumstances. Please use our online Benefits Calculator to see how much you might be entitled to and to apply. Alternatively, you can contact the New Claims Team via email at benefitapplication@torfaen.gov.uk or call 0300 456 3559 who will talk you through the process.

Please note - If you are unable to complete an online claim for Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction we will arrange to complete the claim with you by personal interview at either Cwmbran or Pontypool Customer Centres. Alternatively if you have difficulty getting into one of our offices we can visit you to complete the claim. You can also print off and complete the Short Claim Form and hand it in to one of our Customer Centres. We may need to contact you for additional information and proof of income and capital.

Need further information?

If you would like to know more about Universal Credit, Housing Benefit or the Council Tax Reduction scheme or if you are unsure about which benefit you need to claim then please contact us via email at benefitapplication@torfaen.gov.uk or call 0300 456 3559.

Last Modified: 26/06/2018
For more information contact:

Customer Care Team

Tel: 01495 766430

Email: benefits@torfaen.gov.uk

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