In 2013 the Government is planning a major overhaul of the UK benefits system. If you or your partner are below the Pension Credit qualifying age and if you have a spare bedroom, you will be regarded as 'under-occupying' the property and Housing Benefit will no longer pay for the additional room.
Under housing benefit rules, the number of bedrooms allowed will be based on the following:
• One bedroom for each adult or couple living as part of the household. For these purposes an adult is anyone over 16.
• A child under 16 is expected to share with another child of the same gender.
• Children under 10 are expected to share with another child, regardless of gender.
• A bedroom is allowed for a non-resident carer who provides overnight care to a member of the household with disabilities.
The changes mean that the maximum rent for which you can receive housing benefit would be cut by:
• 14% if you have one extra bedroom,
• 25% if you have 2 or more extra bedrooms.
If you receive Housing Benefit towards the cost of service charges for additional services (such as a furniture pack or tenancy sustainment service) this may also be affected by the cuts.
If you would like further information on these changes please contact the Housing Benefit section at your local authority, or your local Durham Key Options partner who will be able to offer further advice.
The Northern Housing Consortium have launched the Smarterbuys website.
The site offers massively reduced prices on essential household items including white goods and furniture. Over 80 housing providers, representing in excess of 1m tenants, have already signed up to support the scheme. The site is aimed at social housing residents and those on lower incomes but is free for all to use.
As well as links to credit unions, the site also allows users to pay online or offline, by printing out a barcode and taking it to a PayPoint or Post Office. The discounted prices on Smarterbuys- often over 50 percent off RRP- are achieved on the basis of the potential volume of purchases through the site.
You can visit the site at www.smarterbuys.org.uk
You can check the council tax band for any property in County Durham by clicking on the following link. It will take you to the Direct.gov website- simply enter the postcode of the property and you will be presented with the banding for that street:
You can also view council tax information for County Durham including advice on exemptions, discounts and appeals by clicking on the following Durham County Council link:
Durham Key Options have withdrawn the DKO newspaper. The last issue was released on Thursday 19th July. This will mean all properties will now be advertised through the DKO website (internet), the DKO DigiTV channel, the Looking Local phone app and/ or by contacting your DKO partner office only. To comment on this withdrawal, or if you feel you will be unable to search for properties by other methods, please contact your local DKO housing provider or call 03000 262 178 and leave a message. Alternatively you can email: firstname.lastname@example.org or write to: DKO Feedback, Housing Solutions Core Team, Durham County Council, Civic Centre, Crook, County Durham, DL15 9ES.
From the week commencing 4th June we can help you access a private property via the Durham Key Options scheme.
Durham County Council and Durham Key Options are launching a pilot scheme aimed at extending the existing DKO scheme to include the private rented sector.
Bidding for a private property will:
All private landlords in the scheme are accredited with a recognised body. Interested? Look out for private properties coming to Durham Key Options soon.
For further information, please contact Angela Stephenson on 03000 261 092 or Kelly Givens 03000 262 544.