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-18 Sep-17 Annual Change
No of claims affected by under occupation 5,272 5,462 -190
Weekly loss in HB, affected by under occ £68,018 £71,175 -3,157
No of under occ claims clients w/rent arrears 1,915 2,008 -93
No of claims affected by the Benefit Cap 826 1,032 -206
Total weekly reduction (due to Benefit Cap) £48,525 £63,748 -15,223
Source: LCC Welfare Benefits monthly reporting September 2018

The number of households claiming housing benefit affected by the under-occupancy changes as at 30th September 2018 was 5,272.  The 5,272 households affected by the under occupancy rule are losing a total of £68,018 a week.  This is an average of £12.90 cut from each household a week.

Of the same 5,272 claims, 1,915 households were in rent arrears.  This figure has fallen by 93 claims since Sep 2017.

The overall number affected in Leeds by the Benefit Cap was 826 in September 2018. The total weekly reduction for claims affected by the Benefit Cap in Leeds was £48,525 in September 2018.  This means an overall average of £58.75 is being reduced across 826 households in Leeds.

Welfare Reform Impacts on Housing Benefits – Discretionary Housing Payments

Table 4.3

  2016/17 2017/18 2018/19
Case Categories Awards Total Cost Awards Total Cost Awards Total Cost
Significantly adapted 61 £29,585 36 £14,487 38 £20,431
Child access 286 £138,106 245 £110,188 183 £101,681
Approach Pension Cred age 21 £11,313 6 £1,740 11 £5,220
Housing and birth 69 £21,087 43 £9,614 29 £7400
Exceptional Circumstances 1621 £608,849 1,449 £479,739 1,537 £568,725
Foster carers 8 £4,227 5 £2,335 5 £2,970
Renewals £598,883 £1,098,608 £1,127,408
Universal Credit 112 £44,066 213 £92,810 377 £184,384
Private Sector Cases 81 £44,914 43 £23,364 40 £29,411
Benefit Cap Cases 815 £533,378 688 £872,331 414 £472,256
Other 670 £358,858 845 £465,053 1,063 £648,589
Total 3,744 £2,393,266 3,573 £3,170,269 3,320 £2,984,090
Source: LCC Welfare Benefits monthly reporting March 2019

The DHP scheme provides support to tenants affected by the welfare changes. Total DHP awards made in 2018/19 reached 3,320 cases. The value in awards and renewals totalled almost £2.9m.  Of this over £700,000 (27%) was awarded to 1,803 priority groups with under occupancy cases in the social housing sector. Other awards detail show that:

  • 38 awards were made to the Significantly Adapted priority group. This is provided where people living in an adapted property for disability where moving to un-adapted property is not appropriate.
  • 183 awards were made for the Child Access priority group. This is provided where people requiring 2 bedrooms for child access arrangements but were only deemed to require 1 bedroom.
  • 11 awards were made to people due to reach Pension Credit age during the current financial year who will no longer be affected by the under-occupation rules and therefore receive short term support
  • 29 awards were made to people pregnant and due to give birth during the financial year who will be under-occupied until the birth of their baby.
  • There were 1,537 awards made to people deemed to have sufficient exceptional circumstances to qualify for support.
  • 5 People have been awarded the additional bedroom under the foster carer rules but still under-occupying, therefore receive full DHP support award.
  • £1.1m has been awarded in renewal cases during 2018/19. Renewals are for people who have received DHP in previous years and who fall into one of the priority groups.  They continue to be eligible into the following financial year.
  • 377 awards were made to the Universal Credit cases. These awards go to clients who receive universal credit but have a shortfall in their rent.

Local Welfare Support Scheme

Table 4.4

2016/17 2017/18 2018/19
Type of award No of awards Value of spend No of awards Value of spend No of awards Value of spend
Store cards* 630 £20,300 433 £9,050 886 £22,080
Asda Food* 45 £2,661 0
Fareshare food referrals* 963 609
Fuel* 1,244 £32,300 810 £23,550 1,001 £33,420
White goods 906 £326,756 749 £236,647 973 £309,209
Brown goods 283 £53,742 229 £37,398 140 £23,208
Carpets 506 £189,609 403 £160,782 258 £92,953
Travel 13 £56 5 £41 4 £75
Removals 26 £11,325 19 £8,600 26 £12,390
Re-use 449 £86,913 526 £83,492 329 £43,593
Total 5,065 £723,661 3783 £559,560 3,617 £536,928
Source: LCC Welfare Benefits monthly reporting March 2019

*Emergency provision

The Local Welfare Support scheme, which has replaced the Social Fund scheme in Leeds, provides goods and services rather than cash for those in need.  In 2018/19 £536,928 was spent on direct award support which has resulted in 3,617 direct awards from the scheme covering items such as Fuel, White and Brown goods, flooring and removals.

Welfare Reform Impacts on Council Tax 

Table 4.5

Council Tax Sep-18 Sep-17 Annual Change
No of claims affected by the localised council tax support 19,085 19,414 -329
Weekly loss of benefit for claims affected by CTS £71,161 £68,734 +2,427
CT liability of claims prev in receipt of full CTB £3,299,680 £3,153,457 +146,223
Source: LCC Welfare Benefits monthly reporting September 2018

19,085 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 329 on the previous year.

In total, the 19,085 households have effectively lost £71,161 of their weekly benefit.  This is an average loss of £3.73 a week to each of these households.

The 19,085 households now liable to pay 25% of their council tax bill pay a total of £3.3m.  This is an average of £173 owed per year in Council Tax by each of these households.

Employment status of individual claimants on Universal Credit 

Table 4.6

May 2019 Not in employment In employment Total on UC Not in employment In employment
Leeds 12,816 6,049 18,859 68% 32%
GB 1,329,472 694,417 2,023,885 66% 34%
Source: DWP Universal Credit Statistics, July 2019

In May 2019, there were 18,859 claimants of UC, 12,816 were not in work (68%) and 6,049 were in work (32%). The Leeds rate closely resembles the national picture where only 34% 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