All the staff in our Neighbourhood Services Team can give you good advice on housing and other benefits. However, if you have benefit problems or financial difficulties and debts you may want further in-depth advice.

Did you know that if you pay water charges in with your rent, and there are only one or two people in your household, you could save money by switching to a water meter? To find out, either go online or ring your water company. Their contact details are:

Anglian Water
www.anglianwater.co.uk
Tel: 03457 919155

Cambridge Water
www.cambridge-water.co.uk
Tel: 01223 706050

Changes to benefits from 2016

The following benefit changes are set to take place in 2016. Some may be subject to change.

Benefit and Tax Credit rates frozen

The main working age benefits and tax credits will be frozen in cash terms for 4 years from April 2016. Pensioner benefits are excluded. These include: Personal Independence Payment, Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance (Support Group only), Maternity Allowance, Statutory Maternity/Paternity Pay and Statutory Sick Pay.

The Consumer Prices Index fell in the year to September 2015. This means that benefits which are reviewed in line with this measure will not see an increase when the new benefit rates for 2016/17 are released.

Benefit cap reduced

The benefit cap restricts the amount of benefits that a working age household can receive. Any household receiving more than the cap has their Housing Benefit reduced to bring them back within the limit. The Cap is now £20,000 for people living outside London.

Housing Benefit changes

Withdrawal of the family premium in Housing Benefit (£17.45 when a claimant has one or more dependent children) takes effect from 1 May 2016. This affects both new claims and new births from that date.

Housing Benefit backdates will be reduced so that new claims from working age claimants will be backdated for a maximum of four weeks in place of the current backdate of up to six months. You need to show good cause for making a late claim.

Tax credit income disregard cut

From April 2016 if your household income increases by up to £2,500 during the tax year this increase is ignored when calculating your entitlement for that year. This is in place of the current £5,000 disregard.

Single tier State Pension

From 6 April 2016 women born on or after 6 April 1953 and men born on or after 6 April 1951 will receive a new single tier state pension in place of the current basic state pension and state second pension. The single tier pension is designed to be simpler and will consist of a single amount. It will be awarded in full if you have 35 qualifying years of National Insurance contributions. If you don't have 35 qualifying years then, as long as you have between 7 and 10 qualifying years, you will receive a pro rata amount. Otherwise you will not qualify for the single tier pension.

Universal Credit changes

The amount you can earn without your Universal Credit being affected, will be reduced from April 2016. For disabled people and people with children it will be £192 per month (if you have housing costs) and £397 per month if you don’t. The work allowance will be abolished altogether from April 2016 for non-disabled, childless claimants meaning benefit is reduced as soon as you start earning.

The Childcare Costs element of Universal Credit currently pays for 70% of your registered childcare costs up to a monthly limit of £532 for one child (£912 for two or more children). From 11 April 2016, this will increase so that you will be able to claim back up to 85% of your paid out childcare costs up to £646 per month for one child or £1108 for two or more children.

National Minimum Wage increased

The National Minimum Wage will be 'rebranded' as the National Living Wage and will be increased to £7.20 per hour for those 25 or over from April 2016. It will reach £9.00 per hour by 2020.

Personal tax allowance increased

The Personal Tax Allowance (the amount you can earn before paying income tax) will be increased from £10,600 to £11,000 from April 2016. It will be further increased to £12,500 by 2020 and thereafter it will automatically be set at the same level as 30 times the National Living Wage (National Minimum Wage).

Rent changes

From April 2016 some of our tenants’ rents will be reduced by 1% a year for four years in line with a Government directive.

Help available from other agencies

Debt Advice is available from:

Nationally

The Money Advice Service

Tel: 0300 500 5000

National Debtline

Tel: 0808 808 4000

Debt Support Trust

Tel: 0800 085 0226 Email: contact@debtsupporttrust.org.uk

StepChange Debt Charity

Tel:0800 138 1111

Samaritans Advice Helpline

Tel:116 123

Raise (An independent charity which gives free financial advice and training.)

Tel: 0151 291 7850

Christians Against Poverty (CAP) (A charity that provides debt counselling and financial training.)

www.capuk.org

Locally

Cambridge Money Advice Centre

Tel: 01223 727455

Cambridge and District Citizens Advice

Tel: 01223 222660

John Huntingdon Charity

Tel: 01223 492 492 Email: office@johnhuntingdon.org.uk

Cambridge Citizens Advice Bureau

Tel: 03448 487 979

The Bridge Money Advice Centre – St.Ives

Tel: 01480 498 802

Making Money Count (Help with money for people in Fenland)

Tel: 0800 111 6447 Email: makingmoneycount@circle.org.uk