June 2021 – Changes to Housing Benefit
The Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) has confirmed that Housing Benefit claimants that could benefit from the updated care leaver and homeless hostel local housing allowance (LHA) shared accommodation rate (SAR) exemptions that come into force from 31 May 2021, will have to self-identify.
In new guidance to local authorities, the DWP provides advice on the new provisions which, from 31 May 2021, extend the ages for which two of the existing exemptions from the SAR can apply by
Extending the care leavers exemption so that it applies up to the age of 25 instead of 22 and
Extending the homeless hostel exemption by reducing the lower age limit of 25 to 16
However, the DWP advises that claimants will be expected to self-identify to claim an exemption. They states that the number of housing benefit claimants impacted by the changes will be very low. Therefore, no changes have been made to local authority IT systems and local authorities will need to handle these cases via a manual process.
When a claimant states that they are in an exempted group, if the decision-maker decides that they qualify, the one-bedroom LHA rate will need to be applied manually to the housing benefit claim.
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