Welfare reform

The benefits and tax credits system is undergoing significant changes. The information provided explains these changes so you understand how this may affect you.

For a detailed breakdown of these changes download the welfare reform booklet or visit the GOV.UK website.

If you’re concerned or simply considering your options, find out what help and support is available.

Universal Credit (UC)

Universal Credit will be introduced in Tower Hamlets from March 2015.

Who will it affect?

When UC is introduced in Tower Hamlets, it will only affect new single claimants of out-of-work benefits, including those eligible for housing benefit.

It will not apply to:

  • carers, couples or anyone with dependent children
  • people making a claim for Employment and Support Allowance or anyone appealing a decision, or in the mandatory reconsideration period
  • people who have left the UK for a continuous period of more than four weeks in the last two years (habitual resident test)
  • people who don’t have a current account with a bank, post office or credit union
  • people who are homeless or living in supported or temporary accommodation.

Are you ready?

  • most people will be paid Universal Credit once a month direct to their chosen account
  • you'll get a single payment for your household
  • if your Universal Credit includes rent you'll need to pay this to your landlord yourself
  • you'll be expected to make your claim online.

Contact Toynbee Hall debt and money advice services on 020 7392 2989 or via email money@toynbeehall.org.uk for advice and help setting up a bank account and direct debits.

The council’s benefits service can provide information about your Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit, entitlement to discretionary housing payments and free school meals

The Money Advice Service, which was set up by the government to provide free and impartial advice services, has produced a video which could also help you prepare for Universal Credit.

Benefits cap

The government has introduced a benefit cap, which is a limit on the total amount of benefits that households of working age can receive.

The cap adds together all the money you receive from out of work benefits including housing benefit.

This cap limits your total benefits to:

  • £350 maximum per week if you’re single without children
  • £500 maximum per week if you’re a couple or lone parent regardless of the number of children you have.

The cap will not apply if:

  • you or your partner gets Working Tax Credit.
  • you are pension credit age - so if you are over 61½ in April 2013
  • you, your partner or any children you are responsible for who receives Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independent Payment, Attendance Allowance or the support component of Employment Support Allowance.

We encourage you to look for work of at least 24 hours a week (16 hours if you are a single parent). This is the best way to avoid the impact of the cap.

Get help finding work with information on local organisations that provide employment support to residents. 

If you're not sure how the cap affects you, call the Housing Benefits team on 020 7364 5001.

Spare bedroom subsidy (bedroom tax)

The bedroom tax will affect:

  • people of working age on Housing Benefit who are
  • living in council or other social housing
  • with more bedrooms than the government say they need.

If you have one bedroom spare, your Housing Benefit will be cut. This will be by 14 per cent of the weekly rent, or around £17 a week – depending on your rent. You will need to pay the difference to your landlord.

Disability Living Allowance (PIP)

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is replacing Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for people aged 16-64 with long term health conditions or disabilities. PIP: 

  • will help towards the extra costs associated with long term health conditions or disabilities
  • is paid based on how a person's condition affects them with daily living activities and/or mobility
  • is payable to people who are both in and out of work.

If you receive DLA you can start making a claim for PIP. You will need an assessment to decide what level of support you receive. Eligibility for PIP is assessed on a points system related to how someone carries out a range of daily living and/or mobility activities.

Visit the government website for more information on Disability Living Allowance and access to the PIP checker.

Local help and support

The council’s benefits service can provide information about your Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit and your entitlement to free school meals. 

This covers discretionary housing payments and crisis and support grants to provide short term assistance to people in need.

Advice services

Visit the advice services page or download the advice agencies leaflet for a list of helpful organisations. 

Money matters

Visit the money matters page or download the money management support leaflet for information on money issues including budgeting, access to affordable credit and help with debt problems.


The councils employment support services can provide help and support in finding work.