Changes to the Local Housing Allowance

1 April 2011 the Government:

  • Ended the maximum £15 weekly Housing Benefit excess (also known as a top up) that some customers received under the Local Housing Allowance scheme. This means that benefit can no longer be paid above the level of rent
  • Removed the five bedroom Local Housing Allowance rate so that the maximum level of Local Housing Allowance is set for a four bedroom property
  • Introduced absolute caps so that Local Housing Allowance weekly rates in any area cannot exceed: (note: this is different cap to the Overall Benefits Cap which is due to be introduced in April 2013).
    • £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
  • 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
  • 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 this change may affect you.

From 1 January 2012 the Government

  • Extended the LHA shared room rate so it applied to most single people aged 35 or under.

From April 2012 the Government:

  • Put a freeze on the Local Housing Allowance rates. The rates are now set annually (from April 2013) by using the lowest of the following:
    • The Consumer Price Index (CPI); or
    • The 30th percentile of market rents.

From January 2013 the Government:

  • Abolished the anniversary dates for Local Housing Allowance (LHA). Instead rates will be reviewed and changed every April.
  • This means that if the LHA rate used to work out your entitlement to benefit was due to be reviewed between January 2013 and March 2013, it will remain the same until April 2013. 

Who is affected?

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.

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 it’s 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 www.helpwithrent.org.uk.

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.

Changes to the shared room rate

From 1 January 2012 the LHA shared room rate which applied to most single people under 25 was extended to people aged under 35.

This means that single tenants under the age of 35 making a new claim on or after 1 January 2012 will be entitled to the shared room rate rather than the one-bedroom rate. Existing customers will move to the shared room rate at the same time as their transitional protection ceases.

Who is not affected?

You will not be affected if you:

  • Need an extra bedroom for a carer who provides you with overnight care, but doesn’t normally live in your property;
  • Live in supported housing provided by a housing association, registered charity or voluntary organisation Are an ex offender, aged 25 or over, and are subject to active multi agency management under a multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangement (MAPPA);
  • Have spent at least 3 months in a homeless hostel to be resettled back into the community.
  • Please tell us straight away if you think you may qualify for an exemption.

How much will I receive under the shared room rate?

Please see the latest Local Housing Allowance Rates.

What should I do if I can no longer afford to pay my rent?

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 it’s 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 www.helpwithrent.org.uk

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.