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) full digital roll out in Tower Hamlets

Who will it affect?

Full Universal Credit is currently being rolled out in the Tower Hamlets. It replaces a number of welfare benefits and tax credits including:

  • Housing Benefit
  • ESA
  • JSA
  • Income support
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit

These are known as legacy benefits and residents in the postcodes above, who need to make a new claim for any of the legacy benefits, including Housing Benefit, will need to claim Universal Credit instead.

If you live in the Tower Hamlets and need to make a new Housing Benefit claim, it is likely that you will need to claim Universal Credit instead. We therefore advise you to contact either DWP on 0345 600 4272 or the council’s Benefit Service on 020 7364 5001 for advice on which benefit you should claim. 

It will not apply to:

  • anyone with more than two dependent children
  • people who are of pension age

Special rules apply for people who live in supported accommodation.

Anyone living in supported accommodation should claim Universal Credit, but this will not include their housing costs, so they should also claim Housing Benefit

Resident support outreach team

 The council has appointed a team of outreach officers who will be working to support residents making the move to Universal Credit. These officers will be in various locations across the borough including Poplar and Hoxton job centres, the newly launched Financial Health Centre at Massingham Street in Stepney Green and various children’s centres. Dates and times will be advertised as they are agreed with partners and also shown on this page.

For more information or to book an appointment with the team please contact lbthresidentsupport@towerhamlets.gov.uk

Universal Credit research

The council is interested in how the move to Universal Credit is affecting residents, in particular those with children. We are asking those residents who have already moved to Universal Credit and have children to complete a short questionnaire. If you or someone you know would like to share your experience, please take part or encourage others to do so.


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 Reduction, 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:

  • £296.35 maximum per week if you’re single without children
  • £442.31 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.