Changes to welfare benefits

The information below provides some guidance on the changes and how they may affect you.

Local Housing Allowance Rates

The Local Housing Allowance Rates have been increased from April 2024. If you are struggling to pay your rent, you can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment.

Local Council Tax Support Scheme

Wirral Council has its own local Council Tax Support scheme. When you make a claim to Universal Credit and are also liable to pay Council Tax, we will use your Universal Credit award notice to work out how much Council Tax Support you may be entitled to.

More information on Wirral’s Council Tax Support scheme, how to apply and how it may affect you

Housing Benefit for those living in social sector rented properties

People of working age who live in accommodation larger than they need, may have their housing benefit reduced. This is commonly known as the bedroom tax. People who have reached pensionable age are not affected.

If you have one extra bedroom, the amount of rent used to calculate your Housing Benefit, or Universal Credit will be reduced by 14%.

If you have two or more extra bedrooms, the amount of rent used to calculate your Housing Benefit, or Universal Credit will be reduced by 25%.

If you are affected by under occupying your property, you may wish to consider a move to smaller accommodation, or move to a suitable affordable accommodation from a private landlord.  You should talk to your landlord to see if this is possible. You could consider increasing your hours of work to help you meet the reduction.

Housing Benefit Room Allocation - Bedroom Tax Exemption

If you or your partner is unable to share a bedroom because of your or their disability, you may be allowed an extra bedroom when working out your entitlement to Housing Benefit and not be subject to a percentage reduction in your Housing Benefit. This is provided there is a spare bedroom available, and the person affected is in receipt of any of the following:

  • Attendance Allowance (higher rate)
  • Middle or higher rate care component of Disability Living Allowance
  • Daily living component of Personal Independence Payment 
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment  

This will also apply to any other non-dependant disabled adult or child that lives with you, and you have a room available to be used by a carer or a team of carers.

New State Pension

The new State Pension was introduced in April 2016; your entitlement is based on your National Insurance contributions.

The amount of New State Pension from April 2024 is £221.20 per week, if you have made the full qualifying National Insurance contributions.

More information about the New State Pension 

Personal Independence Payments

Personal Independence Payment replaced new claims for Disability Living Allowance.

Personal Independence Payment is based on an assessment of individual need and will affect everyone aged 16 to 64, even if they have an indefinite period award. 

There are no current plans to replace Disability Living Allowance for children under 16 and people who in April 2013, were aged 65 and over, receiving Disability Living Allowance.

More information about Personal Independence Payment

Benefit cap

Some tenants of working age will have their Housing Benefit, or Universal Credit, reduced if they receive a high level of state welfare benefits and are not exempt from the benefit cap.

If you are affected, the benefit cap will be applied to the combined income from all the included benefits and will be deducted from Housing Benefit or Universal Credit. If the capped amount is greater than the weekly Housing Benefit, a minimum amount of 50p per week will remain in payment.

Some households will have their Housing Benefit only partially reduced, if the capped amount is less than their Housing Benefit. For people in receipt of Universal Credit, the amount will be capped to the levels shown below.

The cap levels increased from April 2024 to:

  • £423.46 per week for couples (with or without children) and lone parents
  • £283.71 per week for single adults

There will be a period of “grace” for 39 weeks before the cap is applied, for people who have continuously been in work for the previous 12 months. You will not have your Universal Credit capped if you start work and you will be working 16 hours or more per week, paid at the national minimum wage.    

There are some benefits and one off payments that are exempt from the benefit cap.

Find out more about exemptions to the benefit cap

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is administered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). 

Find out more about Universal Credit