Changes to Benefits - LHA Cap

Content owner : Last updated : 22/01/18

On 25 October 2017 the Government announced that it had dropped plans to cap housing benefit for social housing and supported accommodation tenants from April 2019.

The Government had planned to limit the amount of housing benefit paid to social housing tenants to the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rate used for private sector tenancies. This would have had a significant impact on single tenants under the age of 35 who would have only qualified for the shared accommodation rate and for older tenants living in supported housing who have additional support costs.

How will it affect you?

The full details of how and when this change will be implemented are not yet available.
The majority of Kirklees Council rents are lower than the LHA cap, however there are two groups of tenants who may be particularly affected. They include tenants in supported and sheltered housing and single tenants under the age of 35.

Supported and Sheltered Housing

Single People under age 35

If you are single and aged under-35 you will only be entitled to housing support at the shared accommodation rate when the LHA cap takes effect in 2019. This will be frozen at £55 per week or £238.33 per month (£58.26 per week, £252.46 per month for Bradford and South Dales) until April 2020. In most cases this will not cover the rent charged and you will be responsible for paying the shortfall.

Whether you will be affected also depends on whether you claim housing benefit or universal credit and when your tenancy started.

Housing benefit Claimaints

If you are claiming full housing benefit when the LHA cap takes effect in 2019:

  • Tenancies that started prior to April 2016 - you will be exempt from the LHA cap.
  • New and re-let tenancies that started after 1 April 2016 - you will be subject to the LHA cap and the amount you receive in housing benefit may not fully cover your rent. You will have been given a letter when you signed your tenancy agreement to explain that these future changes might affect you.

Universal Credit Claimaints

If you are claiming universal credit in 2019 then regardless of when your tenancy started, you will be subject to the LHA cap. The housing support you receive may not fully cover your rent.If you reach pension credit age after 2019 and revert back to housing benefit you will only be exempt from the cap if your tenancy started after 1 April 2016.

Transitional Arrangements

Based on current timescales the Government plans to have moved all working age housing benefit claimants onto universal credit by 2022. Housing benefit claimants moved onto universal credit from April 2019 whose overall benefit entitlement is lower will be protected, in cash terms, under transitional protection arrangements. Further information on how these arrangements will work is expected nearer the time.

What can you do?

The LHA cap only applies to people in receipt of housing benefit or the housing element of universal credit. The best way to avoid the cap is to find employment.

Who else can help?

KNH has a dedicated team of officers who can provide you with advice on budgeting and managing debts. They can check that you are claiming the correct benefits and provide support in making an application for a Discretionary Housing Payment. Please contact the Money Advice Unit

KNH also has a Tenants into Work (TIW) team that can help you to find training or employment, put together a CV and provide advice on interview technique : Help to find work

Useful websites

The BetterOff Kirklees website allows you to check which benefits you are entitled to, search for a job and more. BetterOff Kirklees can be found here: BetterOff Kirklees Home

The Shelter Website provides some further information on the LHA Cap What is local housing allowance (LHA)?

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