Welfare Reform News
You may have heard in the media that the Bedroom Tax has been abolished in Scotland, or is ‘as good as abolished’.
In fact, the Bedroom Tax has not been abolished – it is still happening.
If you’re affected by the Bedroom Tax your housing benefit will continue to be reduced. But extra help has been made available.
So what has changed?
The Scottish Parliament voted to allocate extra money to local authorities to help social housing tenants cope with the Bedroom Tax.
The UK Government has given the Scottish Government new powers to allow them to spend the money on this. The extra money has been allocated to the Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) scheme.
How do you apply for a DHP?
DHP forms are available from your local Council Tax and Housing Benefit Office, 1 Gairbraid Avenue, Maryhill G20 8YA (open Monday – Friday, 9am to 4.30pm).
Or you can get a DHP form from Queens Cross Housing Association. Your area housing team can help you to fill in the form.
The DHP form is also available to download from the Glasgow City Council website www.glasgow.gov.uk
Or you can write, asking to apply for a DHP, to: Glasgow City Council, PO Box 36, Glasgow G1 1JE
What else can be done about the Bedroom Tax?
The decision to apply the Bedroom Tax is a housing benefit decision. It is sent to you in a letter telling you that an “under occupancy reduction” applies to your housing benefit. As with any housing benefit decision, there is a right to appeal to an independent tribunal. In some cases it can be argued that the reduction should not be applied at all. Some of these cases have been successful at Tribunal.
Not yet appealed against the Bedroom Tax?
An appeal has to be in writing, and has to reach the Housing Benefit office within one month of the date on the housing benefit decision letter. If your appeal arrives later, you have to give reasons why your appeal was late, and a decision will be taken on whether to extend the time limit. The time limit cannot be extended to any date later than 13 months after the date of the decision.
If your Bedroom Tax decision was issued less than 13 months ago, our welfare rights team may still be able to help you to appeal.
Already appealed about the Bedroom Tax?
Our welfare rights team can help with the ongoing appeal process, and can represent you at a tribunal if there is a reasonable case to argue.
What if I’ve been awarded a DHP to cover the Bedroom Tax – does that mean I’ve won my appeal?
No – the DHP and the appeal process are completely separate. While a DHP might cover the Bedroom Tax amount, it is not an entitlement. The DHP is awarded for a limited period (usually 6 months). If you want the DHP award to continue, then you have to re-apply when it runs out. There is no guarantee that the same DHP will be awarded when you re-apply. So it may be worth continuing with an appeal no matter what has happened with your DHP application.
Where to get information
For further information and advice about Bedroom Tax appeals, or any Welfare Reform issues, contact the Association office on 0808 143 2002 and ask for the Welfare Rights team.
For further information about the Bedroom Tax or DHP, contact your area housing team, or the Financial Inclusion Team on 0808 143 2002.
Due to Welfare Reform there have been new sanction regimes and changes for claimants of JSA and ESA since the end of 2012. Recently, these Sanctions are being applied more and more and affecting the most vulnerable. Sanctions can have a damaging effect on households already struggling with financial difficulties, as well as disability and ill health.
We’re here to help if your benefit is sanctioned. Many claimants accept sanctions without questioning if they are unreasonable, unfair or harsh.
Over half of the claimants who dispute these sanctions are successful in their appeal.
We’re worried that not enough claimants are challenging decisions, and if you’re threatened with a sanction get in touch with the Financial Inclusion Team so we can help.
How is the amount and length of a sanction decided?
How much you’re sanctioned and how long it lasts depends on:
- your age
- whether you are single or a couple
- which benefit it is
- how serious your non-compliance is
- whether it is the first time sanction or a repeat.
When might you be sanctioned?
Your Jobseeker’s Allowance may be sanctioned if:
- you are not available for work
- you are not actively seeking work
- if you refuse a suitable job offer.
If you’re told you might be sanctioned, you might be able to stop it if you can show 'good reason' for your actions. Even if a sanction has already happened it is always possible to dispute sanctions, and you should always do this. The Financial Inclusion Team can help.
A jobseeker’s agreement has to be agreed and signed by you and your Jobcentre Plus adviser. If you are claiming JSA while awaiting the outcome of a mandatory reconsideration for ESA then you should speak to a disability adviser at Jobcentre Plus to have your Claimant Commitment changed to take account of your sickness/disabilities.
Employment and Support Allowance
Sanctions can be imposed for:
- failing to attend or take part in a work-focused interview
- failing to take part in compulsory work-related activity.
Only claimants in the work-related activity group (WRAG) can be sanctioned if they don’t stick to certain conditions without 'good cause'. Sanctions do not apply to claimants in the Support Group of ESA.
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Glossary of terms
|DLA||Disability Living Allowance|
|DWP||Department of Work and Pensions|
|ESA||Employment and Support Allowance|
|JSA||Job Seekers Allowance|
|PIP||Personal Independence Payment|