Welfare reform

The government has made big changes to the welfare system, for people of working age (if you are pension age, then you won't be affected by most of these changes). The aim is to make the system simpler and to make sure that there is a minimum standard of living for everyone by incentivising people back into work. 

Find out about the main changes to the benefits below:

Bedroom tax (under occupation in social housing)

Your Housing Benefit could be reduced if your home is considered to be too big. This may apply to you if you have one or more bedrooms than you need, you will not be affected by this if you are of pension age. 

If this applies to you, your Housing Benefit entitlement will be reduced by 14% for one spare bedroom, or 25% for two or more spare bedrooms.

Read our bedroom tax information sheet to find out how these changes will affect you.

Benefit Cap

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have the sole responsibility for calculating whether a benefit cap will apply to you. The council administers the cap by reducing your Housing Benefit payments. The council has no discretion whether or not to apply the cap.

The cap is a limit on the total amount of benefit that people of working age can receive. The benefit cap means that working age claimants will be paid no more in benefits than the average of the net earned income of working households, even if their full entitlement would otherwise be higher. 

More information on the Benefit Cap including who it does and does not affect along with a Benefit Cap calculator can be found by using the following link: www.gov.uk/benefit-cap

Changes to benefits for mixed-aged couples

Single people who claim benefits move from working-age benefits to pension age benefits, once they reach State Pension age.

People who were part of a mixed-aged couple could previously choose which means-tested benefits to claim once the older partner of the couple reached State Pension age.

From the 15 May 2019, a mixed aged couple that claims both working-age and State Pension benefits, the pensioner partner will not be subject to work-based conditions.

If you are in a mixed age couple and already in receipt of Pension Credit or pension-age Housing Benefit, you will remain unaffected.

Read further information on GOV.UK

Council Tax Reduction scheme

In some circumstances, you may be eligible for a Council Tax reduction. If you are on a low income or if you claim benefits, you might be eligible for a Council Tax bill reduction (also known as Council Tax Support) of up to 100%. You can make a claim online using our Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support form.

You can find out more in our Council Tax Reduction scheme fact sheet.

Universal Credit

A benefit payment system which is gradually being introduced to replace six existing benefits for working-age people, merging them into one payment. This monthly payment replaces a range of means-tested benefits including tax credits, housing benefits and job seekers allowance.

Useful links

  • Fortis housing - find out more about how the welfare reforms
  • Age UK - for more information on benefits for older people
  • DWP - further information on housing benefit changes
  • GOV.UK - for the latest information about changes to the housing benefit system

Contact us

If you wish to speak to someone regarding your benefits application or overpaid Housing Benefit please call 03004 560 560

Please note: calls may be recorded for training and monitoring purposes.

If you have any further comments, suggestions or complaints please:
please write to us at South Worcestershire Revenues and Benefits Shared Services, PO Box 11, PERSHORE, WR10 1PU, or you can e-mail us at benefits@southworcestershirerevenues.gov.uk.

You should note that Council Tax enquiries should be directed to the Council Tax department and not the Benefits department. See the contact details page.