Our latest newsletter is available via the the link at the foot of the page. It includes reminders on some important issues such as the changes in backdating rules, Council Tax penalties and some of the features of our new online application form. There is also a short article on the reduction in the benefit cap which is due to take effect, later this year (probably early autumn). This is an issue that we really want people to stay aware of and not let it slip off their radar. The maximum amount of benefits you can receive in a year will drop from £26,000 to £20,000 for people living outside London. This is likely to affect significant numbers of Sandwell residents. It will be applied by reducing or in some cases completely withdrawing people’s Housing Benefit.
Claimants will be responsible to pay any shortfall in their rent from their other benefit income – so this is not an issue that landlords can safely ignore.
It’s important to stress though that large numbers of Sandwell claimants won’t be affected as their benefit income is already below the £20,000 cut-off. We don’t want to alarm people needlessly but we do want to make sure that the issue doesn’t get forgotten about. Anyone whose benefit income is at or about the new cut-off figure should be thinking now about whether they might be affected and how they will cope.
As always with benefit changes – the rules are more complex than you might expect. There’s a list of qualifications, exceptions and ifs and buts. Some people fall into exempt categories and won’t be affected and some benefits are not included in the cap. More details are available on gov.uk. but do be aware that the calculator tool on gov.uk that you can use to work out if you come under the cap, is still based on the existing cap figure of £26,000 rather than the new levels.