Residents are being advised to take sensible steps to make sure they keep up their rent payments when Government benefit cap changes come into force next month.
Enfield Council’s Cabinet Member for Community, Arts & Culture, Cllr Yasemin Brett, said: “Further reductions in Government benefits are on the way. The maximum amount of benefits that some residents receive is due to drop significantly on 7 November, and I am urging people who are affected to take steps to ensure they have enough money to pay their bills – especially their rent.
“The Government is reducing the total amount of weekly benefit that unemployed people can claim to £442.31 for a family and £296.35 for single people. You may be affected if your living money and housing benefit added together is higher than this weekly total.
“The money will be taken from the housing benefit payments and anyone affected by the coming changes will have already been written to by The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) in order to explain how their Housing Benefit payments may change.’
‘It is vitally important to open letters sent from the benefit agency, not just ignore them.
“Those already affected by the cap will see their Housing Benefit or Universal Credit drop with immediate effect on November 7, while those who are affected for the first time will see reductions in their Housing Benefit from 9 January 2017.
“This is going to have a significant impact of a number of people and it is really important that residents approach changes to their benefits the right way.
“Enfield Council wants to make sure that everyone can continue to pay their rent and it is absolutely critical that people do not get evicted because of rent arrears, as the Council may not be able to help.
“We strongly recommend those at risk of not being able to pay their rent try to increase the number of hours they work, apply for all of the benefits they are entitled to, and seek advice regarding money and debt management as a matter of urgency. “
Notes to editors
The Benefit Cap was introduced in April 2013. It means that individuals or households receiving benefits with a higher value than the cap level have their Housing Benefit or Universal Credit reduced. From 7 November, the cap level will be lowered further depending on the person’s marital and child status.
The maximum amount of benefits people receive is due to drop significantly (from £500 a week to £442.31 a week for people with children and from £350 a week to £296.35 a week for single people without children) on 7 November and Enfield Council is urging people who are affected to take steps to ensure they have enough money to pay their bills – especially their rent.
People can see if they are going to be affected by the changes through using an online benefit calculator created by the government which clarifies how their benefits will be adjusted. People can also find out what support is available on the Enfield Council website and sign up for an Enfield Connected Account for easy access to council services, benefits and payments.
The council advises that people affected by the cap try the following
• Find work or increase your working hours to enable you to get Working Tax Credit, this will mean that the Benefit Cap will not apply to you. You may be entitled to Working Tax Credit if you are:
· single, have children and work at least 16 hours per week
· a couple, have children and work at least 24 hours per week
· single, aged 25 to 59 and work at least 30 hours per week
· single, aged 60 or over and work at least 16 hours per week.
· Apply for any of the exempt benefits (see below) that you may be entitled to. If you are awarded an exempt benefit it will mean that the benefit cap will not apply to you.
· Seek money management advice to help you budget for the shortfall in your rent from your own income.
· If you are struggling with debts seek advice about managing your debts and increasing your income.
· Negotiate a lower rent with your landlord or seek alternative accommodation that’s more affordable.
People will not be affected by the Benefit Cap if they, their partner or their children receive child benefit for, get any of the following exempt benefits:
• Armed Forces Compensation Scheme payments
• Attendance Allowance
• Carer’s Allowance (from 7 November 2016)
• Disability Living Allowance (paid at any rate)
• Guardian’s Allowance (from 7 November 2016)
• Industrial injuries benefits
• Personal Independent Payment
• Support component of Employment and Support Allowance
• War Pensions
• War Widows or Widowers Pension
• Working Tax Credit.
Organisations that can provide more information, advice and support
If you are a housing association tenant worried about paying your rent please contact your housing association they may be able to provide advice and support.
The benefit cap and the benefit cap calculator www.gov.uk/benefit-cap 0345 605 7064
Finding your local Jobcentre Plus www.gov.uk/contact-jobcentre-plus/how-to-contact
Free early years education and childcare www.enfield.gov.uk/if
Money Advice Service
Improving your financial situation www.moneyadvice service.org.uk 0800 138 7777
Citizens Advice Bureau
Money, benefits, housing and employment www.enfieldcab.org.uk 0300 330 1167
Housing, benefits and debt www.shelter.org.uk 0344 515 1540
Enfield Carer’s Centre
Help and Support for Carers and Carer’s Allowance www.enfieldcarers.org 020 8366 3677
Enfield Disability Action
Disability related matters and benefits www.e-d-a.org.uk 020 8373 6228
The Enfield Council website www.enfield.gov.uk has a range of support and advice. This includes:
• Benefits advice and information
• Housing advice
• Jobs and careers.
You can also sign up for an Enfield Connected account for easy access to council services, benefits and payments.