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Benefits advice

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To find out about entitlement to different benefits, go to GOV.UK



Benefits Calculator - Are you missing out?

The Benefit and Budgeting Calculator is a great tool to give you budgeting advice and helps you to manage your money.

It lets you know how your benefits will be affected if you start work or change your working hours.

It gives information on how income-related benefits are calculated including: tax credits, contribution-based benefits, Council Tax Reduction, Carer’s Allowance, and Universal Credit

You can also use this tool to see if you would be better off living elsewhere by comparing costs in affordable locations in London and across the country.

To get the best out of the calculator, you'll need accurate information about your:

  • savings
  • income, including your partner’s (from payslips, for example)
  • existing benefits and pensions (including anyone living with you)
  • outgoings (such as rent, mortgage, childcare payments)
  • council tax bill.

Housing benefit

“Bedroom Tax” or Spare Room Subsidy

Housing benefit is calculated based on rules about how many bedrooms the Government thinks you need rather than how many bedrooms you have. The rules say that housing benefit will pay for one bedroom for each of the following people or groups:

  • an adult couple (married or unmarried)
  • anyone aged 16 or over
  • two children under 16 of the same sex
  • two children under 10 regardless of sex
  • any other child
  • a carer (who doesn't normally live with you) if they need to stay overnight

One 'extra' bedroom will mean your Housing Benefit drops by 14% a week. Two or more 'extra' bedrooms will mean a 25% cut in Housing Benefit.

View Citizens Advice's advice on how to check if a room counts as an extra bedroom (external link) to work out if your Housing Benefit is affected.

If you think you cannot make up the shortfall in rent, then you may need to think about moving to a smaller home. Our factsheet Moving to a smaller home (pdf) explains the options open to you.

For more news about housing benefit changes, visit Haringey Council's Benefit Changes page (external link).

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Benefit cap

In April 2013, the Government introduced the benefit cap. This means that your benefits are added up and if the total amount you get is more than the maximum allowed, your housing benefit will be reduced. Benefit limits are:

  • £296 a week for single people without children, or whose children do not live them
  • £442 a week for all parents of children under 18
  • £442 a week for couples without children

The cap will not:

  • include one-off benefits such as Social Fund loans or non-cash benefits like free school meals;
  • apply to anyone of pension age or
  • apply if one or more household members are eligible for Working Tax Credit;
  • apply if one household member gets Disability Living Allowance, Constant Attendance Allowance or Personal Independence Payments;
  • apply to war widows and war widowers.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) writes to everyone affected by the benefit cap to explain how your benefits will be calculated.

  • Find out more about the benefit cap on the GOV.UK website (external link).  

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Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP)

This is an additional temporary payment of housing benefit for claimants of housing benefit or the housing cost element of universal credit in hardship either as a one-off or a series of payments. The government sets a limited annual budget for these payments so each application is considered on its merits.

DHP can be used to help in the following situations:

  • You have a spare room that Housing Benefit will not pay for (bedroom tax)
  • Your Housing Benefit or Housing Element of Universal Credit has reduced because your benefit has been capped
  • The rent you pay is considered too high for the property you occupy
  • You are single, under 35 years of age and are living in a one-bedroom flat or larger property
  • Your benefit is being reduced because there is a non-dependant in the household
  • Where your income is above the level the Government says you need, but you are still struggling to pay your rent

To apply you need to complete an application form.

You will need to give your family financial and health details.

If you are claiming because you are affected by the government’s welfare reforms the Financial Inclusion Team can help council tenants complete the claim and show the steps you are taking towards moving to a smaller property or increasing your hours of work.

Other residents may contact the Welfare Reform Practical Support Hub.

To contact the Haringey Welfare Reform Practical Support Hub directly for help and advice please call 020 8489 8600 if you are a tenant, or 020 8489 1010 if you are a private landlord.

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Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a new simpler system of financial support for people of working age who are looking for work or are on a low income. From 14 March 2016, Universal Credit will replace the following benefits for single people making a new claim in Haringey:

  • Income Support
  • Income-related Job Seeker's Allowance
  • Working Tax Credit (currently paid by the Inland Revenue)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Child Tax Credit (currently paid by the Inland Revenue)
  • Housing Benefit (currently paid by your local council).

If you are already claiming any of the benefits Universal Credit is replacing, then you don't need to do anything. You will be told when you need to do anything differently.

But if your circumstances change, you may be asked to make a claim for Universal Credit instead. For example, if you are a single person already getting Housing Benefit, you won't transfer over to Universal Credit  unless you become unemployed  and make a new claim with the DWP. .

What is different about Universal Credit?

Unlike current benefits, Universal Credit will be paid straight into your bank account. Benefits payments will be made once a month in arrears and not weekly. What is different?:

  • You can only apply for Universal Credit online - there is no paper application form. If you don't know how to use a computer or go online, why not get free help from one of our Resident Digital Champions?

  • You will need a bank account. If you don't one you'll have to open one. A bank account will make it much easier for you to mange your monthly bills as you can set up regular payments.

  • Universal Credit will be paid directly into your bank account on the same day once a month. You will have to pay your full rent direct to us - housing benefit will no longer be automatically paid into your rent account. This means you will need to make arrangements to pay your rent and any other essential bills.

  • Many new claimants do not receive their first month’s payment until 6 to 7 weeks after applying, some people find it difficult to change how they manage their household budget to this new monthly date, and some people who usually manage find they need help with unexpected bills, if you need help with any universal credit problem call us on 020 8489 5611

  • Check out our Managing your money factsheet series for help with managing your budget and opening a bank account.

  • Find out more about Universal Credit on the GOV.UK website (external link)

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Changes to Council Tax Benefit

Since 2013, Council Tax Benefit has been replaced with Council Tax Support. All people of working age are expected to pay some Council Tax. Full Council Tax Benefit will no longer be paid. If you are of working age, you need to pay some Council Tax. The exact amounts you will have to pay will be shown in your Council Tax bill.

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Working Tax Credit

Working Tax Credit is based on the hours you work and get paid for, or expect to be paid for. It doesn’t matter if you’re employed or self-employed. Unpaid work doesn’t count as work when claiming tax credits. Check if your work can help you qualify.

1. If you’re not responsible for children, you need to work the following hours to get Working Tax Credit:

  • If you’re aged 25 or over, you need to do at least 30 hours a week of paid work.

  • If you have a disability and are 16 or over, you need to do at least 16 hours a week of paid work.

  • If you’re aged 60 or over, you need to do at least 16 hours a week of paid work.

2. If you have children, you need to work the following hours to get Working Tax Credit:

  • If you're single, you need to do at least 16 hours' paid work a week.

  • : If you're in a couple, your joint paid working hours now need to be at least 24 hours a week with one of you working at least 16 hours a week. (This does not apply if one partner is entitled to the 'disability element' such as a sickness or disability benefit, the worker is over 60, if one partner is in hospital or prison, or if one partner is entitled to Carers Allowance).

  • If you're aged 60 or over, you need to do at least 16 hours a week of paid work.

3. Backdated payments:

Any change to your income or family so that your payments go up, will usually only be  backdated for one month. This means that if you now report a change that means your payments go up, the higher amount will only be backdated by up to one month. Do report any changes within one month so your higher payments get backdated to the earliest possible date.

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Non-dependant deductions

The Government has increased the amount deducted from your eligible Housing and Council Tax Benefit for each non-dependant person living with you in your home. This is because any non-dependant people living with you are expected to pay more towards your rent each week.

If you have a non-dependant young person living with you who is about to turn 18 but not in full-time education, or who is over 18 and about to complete full-time education, then you must tell the Council’s Housing Benefit department about the change of circumstance and what their income is. That way the Council can work out the right amount of Housing Benefit you are entitled to.

How much is deducted depends on the circumstances of the non-dependant person:

  • Are they on benefits?
  • Do they work more than 16 hours a week?
  • What is their gross income (amount earned before tax and National Insurance is deducted)?

Currently the amount deducted can range from £14.65 to £94.50 a week but we expect this to increase each year.

Important: If you don’t tell the Council, the maximum amount from your Housing and Council Tax Benefit will be deducted.

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Employment and Support Allowance

You may be able to get ESA if you have an illness or disability that affects your ability to work. You may be able to claim ESA if any of the following apply to you:

  • your Statutory Sick Pay has ended, or you cannot get it
  • you are self-employed or unemployed
  • you’ve been getting Statutory Maternity Pay and have not gone back to work for your employer because you have an illness or disability which affects your ability to work
  • you are under state pension age.

You must also either:

  • have had an illness or disability which affects your ability to work for at least four days in a row (including weekends and public holidays)
  • be unable to work for two or more days out of seven consecutive days
  • be getting special medical treatment.

There are two types of ESA:

Contribution based ESA: You may be able to claim this if you’ve paid enough National Insurance contributions.

Income-based ESA: You may be able to claim this if you don’t have enough money coming in, or you haven’t paid enough National Insurance contributions, and you meet the following entitlement conditions:

  • You have savings of less than £16,000, and

  • if you have a partner, they work for less than 24 hours a week on average.

If you make a claim over the telephone or by textphone, an advisor from Jobcentre Plus will guide you through the application and fill it in for you. Once you’ve submitted your claim, there’ll be a 13 week assessment period including the Work Capability Assessment and possibly a medical. You will be paid the basic rate of ESA during this time.

  • You can claim ESA on the GOV.UK's website (external link) or call 0800 055 6688 or use textphone 0800 023 4888.

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Find out more

The following organisations provide more detailed information and advice about the benefits changes outlined above:

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Getting help

If you need help and advice on benefits issues, please contact our Financial Inclusion team on 020 8489 5611 (lines are open Mondays to Fridays, 8am to 6pm) or email the team directly at:

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Page Last Updated:

30 September 2021