Section 4: Welfare Benefits and Universal Credit

Housing Benefit (HB) and Council Tax Support (CTS)

Table 4.1:

Caseloads Sep-18 Sep-17 Sep-16 Sep-15 Annual Change 2017-18
Total CTS Claimants** 65,300 67,182 70,019 73,245 -1,882
Total HB Claimants 59,290 60,730 64,181 68,044 -1,440
Total combined caseload for HB&CTS*** 72,168 74,297 77,857 82,053 -2,129
Expenditure 2018/19 2017/18 2016/17 2015/16 Annual Change 16/17-17/18
CTS claimed n/a £47.7m £47.0m £46.9m +£0.7m
HB claimed n/a £257.3m £272.1m £287.8m -£14.8m
Source: LCC Welfare Benefits, Jan 2019
** Benefit paid in respect of CT has been Council Tax Support, not Council Tax Benefit, with effect start of 2013/14
*** Where a customer receives both HB & CTS, this will count as one claim (to avoid double counting). Similarly if a claim has only HB, it is counted as one claim, or if a claim is receiving CTS only, this would count as one claim

65,300 households claimed Council Tax Support (CTS) in Sep 2018. The number of claims for CTS decreased by 1,882 in the last year.  59,290 households claimed Housing Benefit (HB) in Sep 2018. The number of HB claims fell by 1,440 in the year from Sep 2017 to Sep 2018. Combined in 2018, there were 72,168 households in Leeds requiring at least one local authority benefit.

The caseloads for CTS in Sep 2017 resulted in expenditure for Sept 2017/18 of £47.7m across Leeds. The caseloads for HB in Sep 2017 resulted in expenditure for Sept 2017/18 of £257.3m across Leeds. This figure fell by £14.8m in the last 12 months.

Welfare Reform Impacts on Housing Benefits

Table 4.2:

Housing Benefit Sep-19 Sep-18 Annual Change  *
No of claims affected by under occupation 4212 5,272 -1,060
Weekly loss in HB, affected by under occ £54,008 £68,018 -£14,010
No of under occ claims clients w/rent arrears 1,281 1,915 -634
No of claims affected by the Benefit Cap 551 826 -275
Total weekly reduction (due to Benefit Cap) £31,139 £48,525 -£17,386
Source: LCC Welfare Benefits monthly reporting September 2019

The number of households claiming housing benefit affected by the under-occupancy changes as of September 2019 was 4212.  The 4212 households affected by the under occupancy rule are losing a total of £54,008 a week.  This is an average of £12.82 cut from each household a week.

Of the same 4212 claims, 1281 households were in rent arrears.  This figure has fallen by 634 claims since Sep 2018.

The overall number affected in Leeds by the Benefit Cap was 551 in September 2019. The total weekly reduction for claims affected by the Benefit Cap in Leeds was £31139 in September 2019.  This means an overall average of £56.51 is being reduced across 551 households in Leeds.

* There are significant decreases in the numbers and values reported in each area. This is not necessarily a decrease in those affected by these Welfare Reforms, and can instead be attributed to claims moving from Housing Benefit to Universal Credit. Once the claim for Housing Benefit has ended, the local authority no longer have access to details of how/if these cases are affected by Welfare Reform.

To put this change of numbers in to perspective, in September 2018, the total Housing Benefit caseload was 59,290, but by the most recent caseload count as of November 2019 this has decreased to 46,496.

Welfare Reform Impacts on Council Tax 

Table 4.3

Council Tax Sep-19 Sep-18 Annual Change
No of claims affected by the localised council tax support 12,949 19,085 -6,136
Weekly loss of benefit for claims affected by CTS £51,063 £71,161 -20,098
CT liability of claims prev in receipt of full CTB £3,852,331 £3,299,680 552,651
Source: LCC Welfare Benefits monthly reporting September 2019

12,949 households, who would previously have had full council tax support, now have to pay 25% of their council tax.  The number of claims to CTS has fallen by 6136 on the previous year.

In total, the 12949 households have effectively lost £51,063 of their weekly benefit.  This is an average loss of £3.94 a week to each of these households.

The 12949 households now liable to pay 25% of their council tax bill pay a total of £3.8m.  This is an average of £298 owed per year in Council Tax by each of these households.

Universal Credit 

Table 4.4

Oct 2020 Not in employment In employment Total on UC Not in employment In employment
Leeds 42,529 26,952 69,477 61% 39%
GB 3,447,202 2,228,785 5,675,985 61% 39%
Source: DWP Universal Credit Statistics, March 2021

In October 2020, there were 69,477 UC claimants in Leeds, 42,529 were not in work (61%) and 26,952 were in work (39%). The Leeds rate matches the national picture where only 39% of all UC claimants are currently in work.

Further Information: Universal Credit

Universal Credit (UC) is a change to the benefits system which provides a single payment based upon the circumstances of the household. UC is now a means-tested benefit which means it is available to people who are in work and on a low income, as well as to those who are out-of-work. Support for housing costs, children and childcare costs are integrated into UC. It also provides additions for disabled people and carers. Claimants will receive a single monthly household payment, paid into a bank account in the same way as a monthly salary; support with housing costs will usually go direct to the claimant as part of their monthly payment.

UC went live in Leeds on 1st February 2016. Initially, the only groups of people that will make a claim for UC are newly unemployed singles who would have previously claimed JSA.  Roll out to other groups of people will started in Leeds from October 2018.  The following benefits will be replaced as UC rolls out in stages across the country:

  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit