National roll out of household benefit cap underway

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The household benefits cap which is part of the Welfare Reform Bill is from this week being rolled out nationally. The reason for the cap according to the GOV.UK policy document is ‘from 2013 to introduce a cap on the total amount of benefits that working age people can receive so that households on working age benefits can no longer receive more in benefits than the average wage for working families.’

The cap limits total combined household benefits to £500 per week and is to be implemented across a 12 week period from 15th July 2013.

The first local authority areas to be capped during the first six weeks are those in which it is estimated that 275 or less households will be affected by the cap. Blackburn with Darwen is included in this group – the full list can be found here on the Department for Work & Pensions website.

The DWP website also lists Households that won’t be affected.

The cap won’t apply to households where a partner or any dependant child qualify for Working Tax Credit or receive any of the following:

  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Industrial Injuries Benefits
  • Employment Support Allowance, if paid with the support component
  • Armed Forces Compensation Scheme payments
  • War Pension Scheme payments (including War Widow’s/Widower’s Pension and War disablement Pension).

Those affected may avoid or reduce deductions to their Housing Benefit if they:

  • negotiate the rent to a more affordable amount
  • move to cheaper accommodation, if possible
  • become entitled to an exempting benefit if the qualifying conditions are met.

There is also additional funding available through the discretionary Housing Payment scheme to support vulnerable households. This will be distributed to local authorities in the normal way.

Further details can be found on the DWP website at http://www.dwp.gov.uk/adviser/updates/benefit-cap/

The benefit cap calculator can be found on the DirectGov website at this link  https://www.dwpe-services.direct.gov.uk/portal/page/portal/bcc/lp