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RE FO WE RM LF A SP RE EC IA L

August 2012

How the internet can save you £££ Page 7

Say no to loan sharks! Page 8

CHANGES TO BENEFITS WILL YOU BE AFFECTED? Page 3

NEWS AND INFORMATION FOR TENANTS AND LEASEHOLDERS OF WOLVERHAMPTON HOMES


Welcome Welcome to an extra edition of Tenants Update that is solely dedicated to explaining the changes to benefits that the government is making. Thank you to the tenants in the communications group for suggesting that we produce this newsletter. You may have heard that huge changes to the benefits system are coming. These changes may affect you. It is very important that you are aware of what’s happening and that you access all the advice you can so you can make the best decisions for your financial future.

As the Board Champion for welfare reform, I hope you find this newsletter useful – please do let us know what you think by commenting on our facebook page www.facebook.com/ WolvesHomes or by using the feedback form on the back page.

Most of the changes are for people of working age, not pensioners. But there are still some changes which affect older people so please read on and make sure you’re aware.

Ann Ramsbottom Editor of Tenants Update

Contact

• Call us on 01902 556789

• Check out www.wolverhamptonhomes.org.uk homes.direct@wolverhamptonhomes.org.uk Tweet us at www.twitter.com/WolvesHomes Join us at www.facebook.com/WolvesHomes

• Text 60066 and start your text WHomes followed by a space • Call us out of hours for emergencies on 01902 552999 • Call us to report antisocial behaviour out of hours on 01902 558901

THANK YOU TO TENANTS Roy Hollingsworth, Jennifer Cooper, Jenny Timmings for appearing in our cover photo.

If you require this information in another language or format, contact us on 01902 556789.

2 Tenants Update August 2012


Will you be affected? Follow our flow chart to find out...

Yes

Is your total income from benefits more than ÂŁ500 (couples & families) or ÂŁ350 (singles)?

Yes

No Are you entitled to Housing Benefit?

No

Yes Are you under occupying your home? Yes

No

Are you aged 16-61 (working age)?

Yes

By one bed

By two or more beds

Your Housing Benefit will be cut by 14%

Your Housing Benefit will be cut by 25%

No

Your Housing Benefit may be cut to bring your payment down to the cap level. For more on the benefit cap see change 2 on page 4

All your benefits will Yes be paid by Universal Credit

If you are 61 or older (pension age) you will not be affected

Do you receive any other benefits?

No You will not be affected

If you think you will be affected, contact us to discuss how we can help. T: 01902 556789 E: homes.direct@wolverhamptonhomes.org.uk August 2012 Tenants Update

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What’s Happening? The Government is changing the benefits system. Change 1: Housing benefit will be paid based on your need, NOT how much your rent is. From 1 April, 2013, if you are of working age (below pension credit age, 61 from April 2013), the Government will no longer pay full Housing Benefit if you under-occupy your home. What is under-occupying? Under-occupying means that you have more bedrooms than the Government thinks you need. Who is entitled to a bedroom? • • • • •

A couple A person aged 16 or older Two children of the same sex until their 16th birthday Two children until their 10th birthday (any sex) Where the claimant or their partner requires overnight care

If you are under-occupying by one bedroom, your Housing Benefit will be reduced by 14%, this is about £12.50 a week for a three bedroom home. If you are under-occupying by two bedrooms or more, your Housing Benefit will be reduced by 25%, about £22.50 a week for a three bedroom home. You will responsible for paying any shortfall in the rent on time and keeping a clear rent account. 4 Tenants Update

August 2012

Change 2:

Change 3:

Your benefits will be capped.

Your benefits will be paid together.

No household will receive more than £500 per week for a family or £350 per week for a single person. The idea is that people should be better off in work than on benefits. What benefits count towards the cap? The cap will apply to the total income a household receives from: • Housing Benefit • Income Support • Job Seekers Allowance • Child Tax Credit • Child Benefit • Bereavement Allowance • Carers Allowance • Employment and Support Allowance (except where paid with support component) • Guardian’s Allowance • Incapacity Benefit • Maternity Allowance • Severe Disablement Allowance • Widowed Parent’s/Mother’s Allowance • Widow’s Pension What will happen if my benefits are more than the cap? In April 2013, your Housing Benefit may be cut to make sure the total amount of your benefit is not more than the cap level. You will be responsible for paying any shortfall in the rent, on time and keeping a clear rent account. To work out how you will be affected by the benefit cap go to www.directgov.co.uk

A new type of benefit, for working age people only, called Universal Credit, will be brought in. It will bring together the main out of work benefits including, Housing Benefit, Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance, Income Related Employment and Support Allowance, Child Benefit, Child Tax Credit, Carers Allowance (income related). If you are working or receive other types of benefits you may not be subject to the cap. It will be paid once a month into your bank account, in the same way as a salary. It will be introduced gradually from October 2013. Pension Credit Age Claimants In April 2013, if you are age 61 and 5 months or more these changes will not apply to you. If you or your partner is of pension credit age and your home is underoccupied, you will not be affected. There will be changes to the way that housing payments are made. Housing Benefit will cease being paid by Councils and will be paid with pension credit or state pension payments. To start with, these can be paid direct to the landlord. Details of these change are likely to be announced in 2014.


Real life case studies A working age couple have two children, a boy aged 8 and a girl age 6. They live in a three bedroom house and their rent is £85 per week. They receive full Housing Benefit. The Government says they have one more bedroom than they need. From April 2013 they will lose £11.90 in Housing Benefit per week. They must pay this amount to Wolverhampton Homes to cover their rent.

3

A working age single mum has two girls, aged 15 and 2. They live in a three bedroom house and their rent is £80 per week. They receive full Housing Benefit. The Government says they have one more bedroom than they need. From April 2013 they will lose £11.90 in Housing Benefit per week. They must pay this amount to Wolverhampton Homes to cover their rent.

3

A working age single dad has three children who live with him at weekends. He lives in a three bedroom flat. The rent is £100 a week and the dad receives full Housing Benefit. Under the new rules, the Government says they have two more bedrooms than they need. From April 2013 the dad will lose £25 in Housing Benefit per week. He must pay this amount to Wolverhampton Homes to cover the rent.

3

A working age single person lives in a two bedroom house. Her rent is £80 a week. She receives full Housing Benefit. Under the new rules, the Government says she has one more bedroom than she needs. From April 2013 her Housing Benefit will be cut by £11.20. She must pay this amount to Wolverhampton Homes to cover the rent.

2

A couple live with their two teenage boys, aged 13 and 15, in a three bedroom house. Their rent is £100 a week and they receive £10 a week in Housing Benefit. Under the new rules, the Government says their children will be expected to share a bedroom and so they will be treated as having one spare. From April 2013 their Housing Benefit will be reduced by 14% of £100 (£14), so they will lose all their Housing Benefit.

3

August 2012 Tenants Update

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YOUR CUT OUT AND KEEP CHECK LIST! Contact us to arrange an appointment to find out how the changes will affect you. See our contact details on page 2.

Sign Up TWOOLVERHAMPUTNOIONN CITY CREDIT

Speak to your family and friends so they understand what’s happening and you can support each other Make a new household budget and consider cutting your spending on non-essential items

Wolverhampton City Credit Union, on Worcester Street, offers a safe, easy way to save and an affordable way to borrow money. You can join by going into the shop or to dloans.co.uk www.wolfsavingsan

Look for a job or increase your earnings in your current job. You can also get advice from the Job Centre Plus or a Work Programme provider or sign up to LEAP for unemployed tenants. Find They also offer ‘Handi out more at Loans’ – short notice, mes.org.uk ho on pt am rh ve ol w w. ww short term loans, currently charged at 26.8% APR Join Wolverhampton City (interest rate). This is Credit Union better value than many pay day lenders. There are also sign up sessions on Tuesday mornings at our Bilston One Stop Shop.

DIRECT DEBIT... Helping you make ends meet It can be tricky trying to manage your bills and ensure everything is paid on time. Direct Debit can take the hassle out of remembering. We can offer you a payment date to suit. All customers paying by Direct Debit with a clear account are 6 Tenants Update

August 2012

entered into a monthly prize draw to win £75 in vouchers or £75 deposit into a credit union account, increased by another £75 after six months. Call us to set up your Direct Debit today on freephone 0800 408 0440.

Denise Beech of Horseley Fields has been a member of the Credit Union since 2009. She said: “My friend introduced me to it and I think it’s absolutely brilliant. It’s so reassuring to know you can get extra cash if you need it, like if something big breaks. I’ve even encouraged my three grandchildren to set up savings accounts. I’m saving at the moment but I’ve had loans in the past and it is so much cheaper than other places you can borrow from.”


GET WEB WISE

Get Money Smart! The internet is a great resource for keeping up to date on money news, for finding bargains and vouchers, selling unwanted items and comparing prices.

Have you visited these websites yet? • Money Saving Expert - tips and advice on money saving www.moneysavingexpert.com • Ebay – an auction site to sell unwanted items or use it to set up an Ebay business www.ebay.co.uk • Groupon – a voucher sharing website www.groupon.co.uk • Wowcher – a voucher sharing website www.wowcher.co.uk • MoneySupermarket – comparison site for utilities and financial products www.moneysupermarket.com • USwitch – comparison site for utilities and financial products www.uswitch.com • Money Advice Service – a Government run website to www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk • Turn2Us – an advice service on benefits www.turn2us.org.uk • Wolverhampton Homes search ‘welfare reform’ www.wolverhamptonhomes.org.uk

BENEFIT CAP CALCULATOR

Want to find out how you’ll be exactly affected by the benefit cap? Put your details into the Government’s online benefit cap calculator, go to www.directgov.co.uk or search for benefit cap calculator.

Stress COPING WITH

Money – or rather the lack of it – can cause huge anxiety as people try to make ends meet. Extreme stress over a long time can cause a wide range of illnesses including depression, high blood pressure, stomach ulcers, or insomnia. Read the tips below for managing stress:

• Be active. Regular exercise, especially walking, is a great stress-buster. • Take control and resolve to find a solution to your problem.

Wolverhampton tenant Ann Marie Hynes said:

• Connect with people. A problem shared is a problem halved. • Challenge yourself. Set yourself a goal to help you address the issue you’re dealing with.

“I’ve sold loads of things on Ebay and I’ve also bought a bed and a computer desk. You can definitely pick up some bargains.

• Be positive and count your blessings.

“It’s really easy to use but I would say to look out for the feedback on each buyer and seller and don’t trade with anyone who hasn’t got good feedback.”

For more tips on managing stress, visit www.nhs.uk and search ‘stress’. If you are experiencing extreme stress, talk to your doctor.

• Accept the things you can’t change and focus on the things you can.

August 2012 Changes to benefits

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Would you like to win £50 in vouchers or £50 in a credit union deposit upped to £100 after six months? Why not complete our Money Smart wordsearch? If you’re the first correct answer out of the hat, we’ll contact you. A F D G T S F H E D E B I T C E

E I N R U N I O N G M X C V C V

C N A D W K O P H D S V T A S V

Q A F B H E R E N T R U T F P C

F N J C S A H J B D S S V F S A

A C V S N D F C B N M M H O O L

N E D A F V M B D E A B C R B C

X G H V X I F D W E R U H D A U

Q S X I B C R E D I T E Z A N L

T W E N Y E B C C X N H J B K A

I A D G N H G D G J O P I L S T

P W C S U B U D G E T S Z E M O

S E L O A N S U I M O N E Y H R

Circle the words below in the wordsearch: Money Smart Credit Debit Finance Advice Loans Affordable Union Tips Banks Savings Budget Calculator Rent

DON’T LET RIP OFF MERCHANTS GIVE YOU SLEEPLESS NIGHTS!

Loan sharks, pay day lenders and high interest white goods shops can all cause sleepless nights if you get into trouble with repayments. Many charge thousands of % interest and a small loan can end up growing and growing until you are unable to cope with it. Don’t fall into this trap! If you are approached by a loan shark, say NO!

You say: “I know people who’ve got into trouble with loan sharks and they lived to regret it. I wouldn’t touch them with a barge pole because I know they’re out to rip you off. Some can even resort to threats or violence, I just don’t need that kind of grief!”

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MONEY SMART WORDSEARCH

Your Feedback

Please let us know what you think of this special edition of Tenants Update on changes to benefits.

Your name (or you can give feedback anonymously if you wish): Your Address: Your Postcode:

Your Telephone:

How satisfied are you with the information in this newsletter? Very satisfied Satisfied Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied

Dissatisfied

Very Dissatisfied

If you would you like someone to call you to arrange a meeting to discuss your finances include the best number to reach you on: Return to: Communications, Wolverhampton Homes, Chillington Fields Industrial Estate, Off Hickman Avenue, Wolverhampton, WV1 2BY. 8 Tenants Update

August 2012


Tenants Update August 2012