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Monday 23 Apr 2018 
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Karen Buck MP, Member of Parliament for Westminster North and Shadow Education Minister visits ICC

Karen Buck MP for Westminster North and Shadow Education Minister visited the ICC to raise awareness of the change in law regarding the way housing benefit is calculated.

The effect of this change will dramatically cut the income from a number of households and it is very important that community centres such as the Islamic Cultural Centre raise awareness of this change in law so that members of the community are prepared for the change in income.

What are the changes?
The Government has changed the way it calculates Housing Benefit for people who live in privately rented housing. If you are not already paying a below average rent for your area, the amount of benefit you receive will be reduced. This is because full Housing Benefit will now only be available for cheaper properties (3 out of every 10).

There are now caps on the amount of Housing Benefit you can claim.

These are:
1 bed - £250 a week
2 bed - £290 a week
3 bed - £340 a week
4 bed - £400 a week

The 4 bedroom rate is now the maximum that anyone can claim.

From January 2012, single childless claimants under 35 will only be entitled to the shared accommodation rate. If you currently live in a 1 bedroom flat you may have to move if you do not fall within one of the exempt groups.

Your Housing Benefit will change -

For single childless claimants under 35 -

- For all new claims from January 2012
- On the anniversary of your claim if made on or after the 1st of April 2011
- If your benefit is already going to be reduced by the other changes, 9 months after your yearly review date
For everyone else -
- When you make a new claim, the claiming partner moves out or if you lose entitlement to a room
- 9 months after your yearly Housing Benefit review date

What options do you have?
- Before your benefit is reduced it is very important that you make the council aware that you will not be able to pay your rent. If you do not tell them it may affect their ability to provide you with housing assistance

- The council may be able to assist you with accessing accommodation elsewhere and/or temporary accommodation if you have children, are pregnant, have a medical problem or you are vulnerable

- You or the council can negotiate with your landlord to try to reduce your rent so that you can stay where you are

- You can try to make up any shortfall from other income or savings

- Apply for a short term discretionary housing payment to make up any shortfall in your rent while you look for alternative accommodation

- Start looking for somewhere else to live on your own - it is not advisable to give up your home unless you have found other accommodation first - If you are threatened with eviction or unable to pay your rent you should seek legal/debt advice and approach Housing Options immediately.

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