The Borough Council is responsible for:

  • Council Tax Support
  • Housing Benefit
  • Local Housing Allowance
  • Welfare Benefits and Fairer Charging

This section provides information on how they are calculated and who is eligible, and you will also find all forms needed to make your application.

Universal Credit

Universal Credit "full service" went live in Newcastle-under-Lyme on 12 December 2018.  Market Drayton Jobcentre Plus went live with Universal Credit on 9 May 2018.  For further details about Universal Credit and which benefit you should claim please refer to our Universal Credit page or contact the Benefits Office on 01782 715500.

New Welfare Benefit Changes

Mixed Age Couples

Currently couples can claim Pension Credit as long as one partner has reached pension age.

However, the Welfare Reform Act that introduced Universal Credit changed the age criteria so that couples will only be able to claim Pension Credit when both have reached pension age. This change was introduced from 15 May 2019.

The change means that all couples where one person is over 65 should check their benefit entitlement. If they are entitled to Pension Credit and were in receipt of it before 15 May 2019 they won’t be affected by the change. But if they try to claim Housing Benefit now they will be too late and will have to claim Universal Credit instead.

New State Pension

The Government has introduced a flat rate (single tier) State Pension for people who reach state pension age from 6 April 2016. The single tier pension will be a flat rate without the additions and complexities of the current system, and without the right to inherit or get rights to a pension on the basis of your spouse or civil partner's contributions.

The rate is £168.60 per week which is more than the basic means-tested support currently available.

To qualify for the full New State Pension you will need 35 qualifying years of National Insurance contributions (NICs)  or credits. If you don't qualify for the full pension you can get a smaller amount based on how many qualifying years you have. However, you will need a minimum of between seven and ten years. If you qualify for the single tier pension you will not be able to get the savings credit part of Pension Credit.

If you are already over State Pension age when this was introduced you will continue to receive your State Retirement Pension under the current system and can continue to get the savings credit part of Pension Credit if you are entitled to it.

Freeze on working-age benefits

From April 2016 the Government put a four-year freeze on working age benefits. The only benefits to increase were State Retirement Pension and Industrial Injuries Death benefit.  The four-year freeze has now ended and benefits will increase in April 2020.

Reduction in social sector rents

The Government has reduced rents paid by tenants in social housing in England by 1 per cent a year for 4 years from 2016.

Freeze to Local Housing Allowance

There is a four-year freeze to Local Housing Allowance rates for four years from 2016-17 to 2019-20.  However, From April 2018 there has been a small increase in the Single Room Rent figures for both Newcastle-under-Lyme and Shropshire.  The four-year freeze has now ended and Local Housing Allowance rates will increase from April 2020.

Removing Housing Benefit Family Premium

Housing Benefit family premium has been withdrawn for new claims from 1 May 2016.

Limiting backdating in Housing Benefit

Since April 2016, Housing Benefit claims can only be backdated for a maximum of one calendar month for working age claimants. Pension age claimants remain at three months.

Removal of Pension Credit Assessed Income Period

Since 6 April 2016, households on Pension Credit need to report all changes in their circumstances that will affect their benefit as they happen. Pensioners aged 75 and over who have an indefinite assessed income period in place will not be affected by the change unless the assessed income period would end under current rules. For more information see GOV.UK Pension Credit factsheet.

New National Living Wage

From April 2020 the new National Living Wage is £8.72 an hour for workers aged 25 and above.

Two child limit

From 6 April 2017, Child Tax Credit (CTC) is limited to two children where a new child is born or joins a household on or after this date.

If you already receive CTC for more than two children born before 6 April 2017, this will continue to be paid.

There are exceptions to the two child limit and the decision and on whether a third or subsequent child should be included in the tax credit award rests with Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs.

The two child limit will also apply to the Housing Benefit rules in the following scenarios:

  • New claims made on or after 6 April 2017
  • Where a new child joins an existing claim on or after that date.

The rules limit the number of personal allowances paid for a child to two per claim.

All children in the household will still be taken into account when awarding premiums and deciding the bedroom requirement.

Housing Benefit will follow any decision made by Tax Credits - for example, if three or more children are taken into account in the CTC assessment, then regardless of when an HB claim is made, the same number of dependant allowances will be used in the HB calculation.

To ensure we are using the correct personal allowance we may need to see your Tax Credit award letter.

For further information please visit the GOV.UK website.

Last updated 1 April 2020

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