From 1 April 2011 the Government:
1. Ended the maximum £15 weekly Housing Benefit excess (also known as a top up) that some customers can receive under the Local Housing Allowance scheme. This means that benefit can no longer be paid above the level of rent.
2. Removed the five bedroom Local Housing Allowance rate so that the maximum level of Local Housing Allowance is set for a four bedroom property.
3. Introduced absolute caps so that Local Housing Allowance weekly rates in any area cannot exceed:
- £250 for a one bedroom property
- £290 for a two bedroom property
- £340 for a three bedroom property
- £400 for a four bedroom property
These caps do not affect Local Housing Allowance rates in Trafford, but may apply if you move to another area.
4. Reduced all Local Housing Allowance rates so that about 3 in 10 properties for rent in the area should be affordable to people on Housing Benefit, rather than every 5 in 10 properties as was the case before April 2011.
5. Where a disabled customer or their partner (with a long term health condition), has a need for overnight care that is provided by a non-resident carer they will be allowed an additional bedroom within their size criteria of their Local Housing Allowance. Please tell us straight away if you think you maybe affected by this change so we can pay you your correct entitlement.
Will I be affected by the April 2011 changes?
If you are renting from a private landlord and you made your claim for Housing Benefit at your current address on or after the 7 April 2008 it is likely that you will be affected by these changes.
When will these changes affect me?
If you make a new claim for Housing Benefit after 1 April 2011 these changes will affect you straight away.
If you already received Housing Benefit before April, your claim will normally be affected 9 months after your review date (known as your anniversary date). Therefore, you and many existing customers will not be affected until January 2012 and some will see no change until March 2012. However, you may be affected sooner if you move home or if someone moves in or out of your property.
If you receive the £15 Local Housing Allowance top up this will end from your anniversary date. The 9 month protection does not apply.
When is my anniversary date?
Your anniversary date is the date you first made your claim. For example, if you claimed Housing Benefit on 5 September 2008, your anniversary date is 5 September. This means that the removal of the £15 excess (top up), would affect you from 5 September 2011.
How much benefit am I likely to lose?
From 1 April 2011 the Local Housing Allowance rates went down, so that about 3 in 10 properties for rent in the area should be affordable to people on Housing Benefit rather than every 5 in 10 properties as was previously the case prior to April 2011.
This change affects all new claims from 1 April 2011. People already claiming Housing Benefit will be protected for a further 9 months after their Local Housing Allowance anniversary date; unless they move home or someone moves in or out of their property. Therefore, many existing customers will not be affected until January 2012 and some will see no change until March 2012.
The current Local Housing Allowance Rates will give you an indication of how much you may receive in future. However, please note that these rates change every month, so they may be different when your protection period comes to an end.
What should I do if I can no longer afford to pay my rent?
If your benefit is due to go down, it is very important that you act now to plan how you will manage these changes. We recommend you talk to your landlord as soon as possible to see whether they will reduce the rent on your property. As an incentive we can pay your Housing Benefit directly to your landlord if they agree to reduce the rent charged to an affordable level.
If itís not possible to renegotiate your rent you could either make up the shortfall yourself or start looking for cheaper shared accommodation. You might want to talk about your situation with
Housing Options Service Trafford or the
Citizens Advice Bureau.
A new dedicated team has also been set up to help residents across Greater Manchester. You can phone them on 0845 120 2093 (local rate number) or visit their website at
We may also be able to help you meet the gap between your benefit entitlement and the rent you pay by awarding a discretionary housing payment. The amount of money available for these payments is limited so we will have to consider your circumstances carefully.
Apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment