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What are the changes?

The Government is making changes to the benefit system - find out how this may affect you.

The government is making changes to the benefits system.

If you are of working age and claim benefits or tax credits then you are likely to be affected by government changes and you will get less money. Some of the changes we expect to see this year will affect how much rent and council tax you pay if you are on benefits. It is important that you find out how you are affected and take action to manage your money.

The government is overhauling the benefits system. Below we cover what main changes are - they mostly affect working age people. Please click on the changes to find out more information about who is affected and how.

When What is the change?

April 2013

Housing Benefit, spare room ‘bedroom tax’  Removal of the Spare Room subsidy for tenants living in social housing.

Abolition of Council Tax Benefit to be replaced by Council Tax Support.

Benefits and Tax Credits - increases capped at 1% - a below inflation increase that could affect your ability to pay your bills.

Abolition of Community Care Grants and aspects of the Crisis Loans and introduction of the Resident Support Scheme.

June 2013

​Introduction of Personal Independence Payments for people who would normally be claiming Disability Living Allowance. (This will be phased in. From June new claimants will be assessed for PIP). Most existing DLA claimants are not affected until the end of 2015.

August 2013

Household Benefit Cap – to limit the total amount of benefit paid to out of work households.

November 2015

Universal Credit has will begin slowly from 9 November with new single out of work claimants who meet certain entitlement criteria.

​April 2016

Any new requests from 1 April 2016 for working age customers for Housing Benefit backdate, where good cause has been shown, will be limited to a maximum of one month.

​May 2016

​The family premium will not be included in the Housing Benefit applicable amount for new entitlements to Housing Benefit on or after 1 May 2016, or for any existing claimants who have a child or become responsible for a child (under 16) or young person (under 20) for the first time after 30 April 2016. It will also mean that if you have a current claim and you cease to have responsibility for a child but later become responsible again you will not be able to regain access to the family premium.

​November 2016

 From 7 November the Household Benefit Cap was reduced, cutting the total amount of benefits that you can get.

​April 2017

Child Tax Credit support will be limited to two children. If you already have two or more children any children born on or after 6 April 2017 will not be eligible or further support. You can still receive a child element for more than two children if the children were born before 6 April 2017.

The family element of £545 per year will be abolished. Families with at least one child born before 6 April 2017 will continue to the family element but claims where the eldest child is born on or after 6 April 2017 will not receive the family element.

Universal Credit will be limited to two children, elements will not be included for the third (or more) child who is born on or after 6 April 2017 unless an exception applies. Elements will continue to be included for all children who were part of the family before 6 April 2017.

Families with more than two children cannot make a new claim for Universal Credit until November 2018, even if they are in a full digital service area. They will have to claim Child Tax Credit in the meantime and will be eligible to claim Housing Benefit.

Universal Credit taper is being reduced to 63% from 10 April 2017. This means that for every £1 you earn over your work allowance your Universal Credit will be reduced by 63p (previously it was reduced by 65p).

Benefit cap exemption for Universal Credit claimants will be changed from 1 April 2017 from a fixed amount of £430 per month to the amount that you would earn if you were working 16 hours a week at national minimum wage.

For example someone aged over 25 years old in receipt of the housing element of Universal Credit would have to earn £520 instead of £430 per month to be exempt from the benefit cap.

Employment and Support Allowance work-related activity group component will be abolished. New claimants of Employment and Support Allowance who are placed in the work-related activity group will receive the same amount of benefit as those claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance. This does not affect people placed in the support group.

What can you do?

Contact us now and we’ll do all we can to help you prepare for the changes.

  • a benefits check to make sure you are claiming everything you are entitled to
  • housing advice and, if necessary, support with relocations and school transfers
  • negotiating rent reductions with your landlord
  • discretionary housing payments to help you cope with the benefits changes
  • debt and money advice
  • support with getting into training, work or self employment

For help and advice please call 020 7527 4990  – select option 4 – or email

Other useful contacts and information

If you would prefer to speak to a voluntary organisation you can contact the Islington Advice Line for free and confidential advice on welfare reform and debt, call 0300 330 1197 or email

The advice line has advice and support provided by Islington's Citizen Advice Bureau, Islington Law Centre, Islington People's rights and Disability Action in Islington.

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