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Welfare Reforms and Benefit Advice

Benefit cap - Worcestershire residents

Currently there is a cap on the total amount of benefits a household can receive each week if you are working age. Under the benefit cap, those living in the UK outside Greater London will receive a maximum of:

  • £384.62 per week (£20,000 a year) for a couple.
  • £384.62 per week (£20,000 a year) for single people whose children live with them.
  • £257.69 per week (£13,400 a year) for single people who do not have children or whose children do not live with them.

The Benefit Cap applies to those households that includes someone of “working age”

Many benefits are described as being for people of working age (e.g. Jobseeker's Allowance, Income Support and Employment and Support Allowance). This usually means you have to be over 16 but under Pension Credit age to claim them.

The benefit cap does not apply to those households that include someone who is receiving:

If you have been employed continuously for 12 months, and lose your job through no fault of your own, the benefit cap won’t apply to you for the first 39 weeks of your claim.
Benefit Cap Calculator
The government has provided the Benefit Cap Calculator to give you an estimate of how much your benefit might be capped.

  • You can't check if you’re affected by the benefit cap if you're claiming Universal Credit.
  • You'll need to know the amounts of each benefit you get to use the calculator and the number of people in your household.
  • Your household includes you, your partner and any children that you’re responsible for and who live with you.

If you are affected by the Benefit Cap then the reduction in your benefits will be deducted from your housing benefit and you will be responsible for paying the shortfall.

Child Benefit

Child Benefit is paid at a higher rate for your oldest child. This is £21.05 a week. If you have other children, you get £13.95 a week for each of them.

If you get Income Support or income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, and have been since before 6 April 2004 with a child element included, Child Benefit will affect the amount of Income Support or income-based Jobseeker's Allowance you receive.

If you or your partner have an individual income of £50,000 or more and you receive Child Benefit, an income tax charge has been introduced as a way to reduce the value of the Child Benefit you get. See High income Child Benefit tax charge.

The government has provided the Child Benefit tax calculator to give you an estimate of how much your benefit might be capped.

Child Tax Credits

Tax Credits has been replaced by Universal Credit for most people. You can only make a claim for tax credits if you fit the following criteria;

  • You get the severe disability premium within any current legacy benefit (Housing Benefit, Income Support, Employment & Support Allowance (Income related), Jobseekers Allowance (Income based) or Working Tax Credits.
  • Got or were entitled to the severe disablement premium in the last month and still eligible for it within any benefits listed above.

Currently under child tax regulations, you could get Child Tax Credits for each child you are responsible for if they are:

  • Under 21
  • Under 20 and in eligible training


How much you get depends on your circumstances. You can use the Tax Credit Calculator  to find out how much you may be entitled to. If you don’t meet the above criteria to claim Tax credits please visit the Universal Credit homepage.

Council Tax Support  - Worcester City

Council Tax Support is the system under which councils give discounts on Council Tax bills to help people who have a low income.  Before April 2013 it was called Council Tax Benefit

From 1 April 2014 changes were made to Council Tax Support in Worcester for some working age people. Pensioners will not be affected.

The following applies to all working age council tax support claims from the 1 April 2014 onwards;

  • No backdating facility. It is important that you make a new claim for help straight away to avoid losing assistance with your bill.
  • The amount of Council Tax Support you are entitled to will be capped to a Band D property. You can still apply if you live in a property with a higher band but the award will be capped to the equivalent charge to a Band D in your area.
  • The maximum capital threshold for working age customers is £6,000.
  • The minimum entitlement to Council Tax Support to qualify for help is £5.00 per week.
  • Spousal Maintenance is taken into account as income into the household alongside any earnings or unearned income.

Local Housing Allowance - Private Landlords

The Valuation office agency determine Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates to calculate Housing Benefit for tenants renting from private landlords. LHA rates are based on private market rents being paid by tenants in the Broad rental Market Area (BRMA).  A BRMA is a distinct area of residential accommodation within which a person could reasonably be expected to live which includes a varying range of accommodation and tenancies.  The LHA rates are fixed at the 30th Percentile point for rents in each size dwelling, based on market rents paid by tenants who are not receiving Housing Benefit or Universal Credit Housing Costs.

*Due to COVID-19 the LHA rates were increased from April 2020. Please see below weekly rates relevant to Worcester City residents.

Worcester City LHA Rates from April 2020


Room Rate *

1 Bed

2 Bed

3 Bed

4 Bed

Worcester  City 






*The room rate is the “shared accommodation rate” .This applies to single people under 35 and do not have dependent children or a severe disability premium within any benefits that they claim. The bedroom allowance is capped to a 4 bedroom rate even if your family require additional bedrooms.

This table shows the weekly amount of Housing Benefit that will be paid for any tenant living within general needs accommodation in Worcester City

Under the LHA rules the maximum amount of Housing Benefit you can receive will be decided by the number of bedrooms you require – not the number of bedrooms you have. The amount of benefit you receive may reduce depending upon your income, savings and circumstances and the Benefit Cap.

One room is allowed as a bedroom for each of the following occupiers, each person only counting in the first category which applies to them:

  1. A couple
  2. A single person aged 16 or more
  3. Two children of the same sex under the age of 16
  4. Two children (of the same or opposite sexes) under the age of 10
  5. A child under the age of 16


Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) helps with some of the extra costs caused by long-term ill-health or a disability if you’re aged 16 to 64.

The rate depends on how your condition affects you, not the condition itself.

You’ll need an assessment to work out the level of help you get. Your rate will be regularly reassessed to make sure you’re getting the right support.

  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA) has ended for people who were born after 8 April 1948 and are 16 or over.
  • You can keep getting DLA if you’re under 16 or you were born on or before 8 April 1948 and have an existing claim.
  • Your carer could get Carer’s Allowance if you have substantial caring needs.
  • You’ll continue to get DLA until the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) writes to you to:
  • tell you when it will end
  • invite you to apply for PIP

Help with PIP

You can contact a local support organisation to get help understanding PIP.

Under Occupation in Social Housing

Government rules introduced in 2013 reduced the amount of Housing Benefit and Housing Costs through Universal Credit that both council and housing association tenants can claim if their home is considered too large for their needs. These rules only affect people of working age, Pensioners remain unaffected.  This under occupation reduction is commonly referred to as the 'bedroom tax'.

The maximum rent that can be covered by either Housing Benefit or Housing Costs within Universal Credit will be reduced by the following;

  • 14% if you have 1 additional bedroom to requirement.
  • 25% if you have 2 or more additional bedroom’s to requirement.

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a single monthly payment for working age people in or out of work, which replaces the following benefits:

  • Jobseekers Allowance (Income Based)
  • Employment & Support Allowance (Income related)
  • Income Support
  • Housing Benefit
  • Child & Working Tax Credits.

Universal Credit will be paid to a single claimant in each household, in arrears, once per calendar month. The date that the Universal Credit will be paid is determined by the date you make your claim.

  • All claims for Universal Credit have to be made on-line at
  • If you need assistance or advice on making a claim for Universal Credit, then you can access the ‘help to claim service’ provided by Citizen’s Advice.

Below is a list of information required to complete the form:

  • Your postcode
  • Your National Insurance number
  • Details of the bank, building society or credit union account you want your Universal Credit paid into
  • Your rent agreement (if you have one)
  • Details of your savings or other capita
  • Details of any other income that’s not from work e.g. from an insurance plan
  • Details of any other benefits you are getting
  • Details of any children, including their child benefit numbers if you have them
  • You might also need these details for people who live in your home e.g. your partner

Universal Credit is being introduced in stages throughout the country. You should currently only move over to Universal Credit if you need to make a new claim for any of the benefits listed above.  

Support and information

Appeal a Benefit Decision

How you appeal a benefit decision depends on: the type of benefit you applied for and the date the decision was made

The Money Advice Service

Has a lot of help and information to help you with budgeting and planning for Universal Credit.


Is a free service that helps people in financial need to access welfare benefits, charitable grants and other financial help – online, by phone and face to face through our partner organisations? Their website can help you find financial support, quickly and easily, based on your circumstances. It features a free and easy to use Benefits Calculator, Grants Search and other information and resources

Worcester Citizens Advice Bureau & WHABAC provide

A free, independent, confidential and impartial service. They offer a range of services, supporting people, providing information / advice and directing people to the best source of help for their issue.

Worcestershire Advice Network website

Deliver advice and information services across the county. Their services are free, independent, impartial and confidential. Worcestershire Advice Network is a partnership between; Five Worcestershire Citizen Advice bureaux as well as South Worcestershire DIAL and North Worcestershire DIAL who provide information and advice to disabled people and others on all aspects of living with a disability.

  • If you cannot find what you are looking for: Complete the online form. They will get back to you within three working days.


The housing and homelessness charity, give free independent advice and information on housing to help you understand your rights and options.

The Housing Advice Team

If you would like to speak to somebody for housing advice or homelessness enquiries, you can contact the team as follows:
Tel:  01905 722589
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
If you are concerned that you are at risk of becoming homeless, it is really important that you seek advice at the earliest opportunity. In the first instance, you should speak to a customer services advisor - this is located in Trinity Street Housing Advice Centre, Trinity Street Worcester, WR1 2PW..

 If you are a tenant of a housing association in Worcester and are having problems with your rent you should contact them in the first instance as they have a lot of help and support to offer such as Welfare Reform Advisors and Debt Advisors