If you're concerned about any changes to welfare benefits in Lambeth you can find details of how they may affect you and what support is available.

If you're concerned about any changes to welfare benefits in Lambeth you can find details of how they may affect you and what support is available.

Our welfare reform calculator can help you find out how you will be affected by these changes. By answering some simple questions about your household and your income, we will be able to tell you if and how welfare reform affects you.

Use our welfare reform calculator

We also want to make sure that you are receiving all of the benefits you are entitled to. Our simple benefits calculator will assess your circumstances and tell you what benefits you should be receiving.

Use our benefits calculator

Sections in this guide (click title to view)

1. Universal Credit

What will Universal Credit replace?

Universal Credit will replace the following legacy benefits:

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

Anyone claiming any of the above benefits may be asked to claim Universal Credit instead.

What’s different about Universal Credit?

Claims for Universal Credit will need to be made and managed online.

It will be paid monthly in arrears and directly into your bank account. So for example, instead of Housing Benefit payments going directly to your landlord, this element of Universal Credit will be paid to you, so you'll need to manage your finances so that you have the money to pay your rent from your Universal Credit payment.

There is typically a five to six week wait before your receiving your first payment so you need to ensure that you can afford to cover your rent and other outgoings during this period of no income.

When does Universal Credit start?

Lambeth is now a Full Service Universal Credit (UC) Area. This means that if you need to make a new claim for following benefits:

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

you will be expected to make a Universal Credit Claim and manage this online.

Check if Universal Credit is in your area

What support is available?

If you're asked to claim Universal Credit, contact the Central Income Team immediately on 020 7926 0820 or email HMCITEnquiries@lambeth.gov.uk.

Failure to do so means that your housing element (which replaces housing benefit) will not be paid, as we will be unable to provide your rent costs to Universal Credit for them to calculate your payments.

Your income officer will invite you to an appointment to discuss the help available in full – this could include:

  • help with using computers to make and manage the claim
  • help with setting up basic bank accounts
  • London Mutual Credit Union who may be able to provide short term loans to cover the waiting period before your first payment, and Jam Jar accounts to help manage your monthly payments
  • personal budgeting support for money advice and help with monthly budgets.

Further information about Universal Credit can be found here:

5 Tips to getting to grips with Universal Credit Full Service

  1. Should you be claiming? – Remember that if you have 3 or more children or you are of state pension age you will not be expected to make a claim for Universal Credit just yet. You may be redirected to claim Housing Benefit instead.

  2. Know how to access the internet so you can make a UC claim – It is important to make a claim for Universal Credit as soon as possible to avoid delays in payments and backdating. If you are unable to use a computer or a smart phone you should visit your local job centre and they will help assist you to get online for further assistance on the help you can receive.

  3. Have an email address that you can access regularly! It is important that you have an active email address that you are regularly checking. All communication between you and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will be through your online journal in which notifications are sent via email.

  4. Speak to your landlord as soon as possible – As soon as you have made a claim for Universal Credit, let us know! We will be able to assist you in a variety of enquiries that you may have about the process and any additional benefits you may be entitled to as well as referring you to specialist support if you are having difficulty managing your claim. We will also be able to give a breakdown of all your rent charges to ensure you are paid correctly.

  5. Know how much rent you need to pay - Unlike Housing Benefit, Universal Credit is paid directly to you in one monthly payment. It is important that you know how much rent you need to pay on a monthly basis. We calculate monthly payments by the weekly rent multiplied by 52 weeks divided by 12 months. You can find your rent amount on your statement or by contacting the Income team directly.

Bonus Tip From April 2018, if you were receiving Housing Benefit before going onto Universal Credit your Housing Benefit will continue for two additional weeks as an overlapping payment.

2. The benefit cap

The benefit cap limits the amount a working age person can get from welfare benefits.

At present the cap is £442.31 per week for all Lambeth Council tenants.

If you or your partner are in work and claiming working tax credits, or are unable to work and claiming ESA, DLA or PIP then you are exempt from the cap.

Please contact your welfare solutions officer for advice on claiming these benefits. The full details of the cap and other exempting benefits which can be found on the benefit cap pages on GOV.UK.

If you aren’t entitled to any of these, we may be able to help you with a Discretionary Housing Payment and can also provide employment support to help you qualify for working tax credit.

3. Bedroom tax

Removal of the spare room subsidy (Bedroom tax)

If you're claiming either Housing Benefit or Universal Credit and have a spare room in your property, then your housing benefit or housing element of Universal Credit will be reduced by 14 per cent for one spare room, or 25 per cent for more than one spare room.

If you are struggling to afford the shortfall in your rent we can help with the following options, and in some cases may be able to assist with a Discretionary Housing Payment.

Downsizing

If you no longer require your spare room, and would like to downsize to a cheaper or more suitable property (or simply wish to move to another area), we can help you find a more suitable property.

We also offer an incentive payment of £500 per room given up (to be paid after the move is completed).

Please see the Moving home tab to find out more about downsizing via either Mutual Exchange (to swap homes with another tenant) or Transfer (to move into a vacant property).

Lodgers and subtenants

Another option is to rent the spare room to a lodger or subtenant – under current housing benefit rules this will remove the bedroom tax for the room you rent out, and can also help cover any remaining shortfall with the income you receive.

The first £20 is disregarded, but additional income could affect your other benefit entitlements so please contact your welfare solutions officer for a better off calculation.

Under Universal Credit, it won’t remove the bedroom tax but all lodger income is disregarded, so you can charge higher rent to cover the shortfall from the bedroom tax and keep some for yourself as well.

Employment support

As the bedroom tax is a reduction in your housing benefit, increasing your income so that you are no longer reliant on benefits could allow you to keep your spare room.

Find out how we can help you with employment and training.

Pay and stay If none of the above options are suitable for you, your Welfare Solutions Officer can still help by providing budgeting and benefits advice to ensure you can maximise your income, minimise your expenditure and afford the shortfall.

Please also see the advice agencies section for examples of the external help we can refer you to if required.

4. Personal Independence Payment and Disability Living Allowance

The Personal Independence Payment (PIP) has replaced Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for new claimants aged 16 to 64.

There are currently no plans for PIP to replace DLA for children under 16 or people over state pension age.

PIP is based on an assessment of individual need. The new assessment will focus on an individual’s ability to carry out a range of key activities necessary to everyday life, and points are awarded to give a final score. There are two separate components for Daily Living and Mobility.

Information will be gathered from the individual, as well as healthcare and other professionals who work with and support them. Most people will also be asked to a face to face consultation with a trained independent assessor as part of the claim process.

If you are trying to claim PIP we can support you with determining your eligibility, assistance filling in the forms and help appealing decisions if you are refused.