What to do if your benefits are cut

Money Advice Service

Recent changes to the benefits system might mean you have less to live on. This can lead to pressure on your household budget and worry about debts. Find out what you can do to make ends meet in the short term, then look at longer-term ways of managing your money.

Housing Benefit cuts

If your Housing Benefit has been cut, perhaps because of the benefit cap or a spare bedroom, then you might be worried about falling behind with your rent. Or perhaps you already have rent arrears.

Contact your landlord

If you’re worried about finding the money to pay your rent, the first thing you should do is to talk to your landlord to see whether there are any options available to you.

If you rent a social housing property, your council or housing association might talk to you about transferring to a smaller home (if any are available) and they can advise you on whether any extra financial help might be available to you.

Claim a Discretionary Housing Payment from your council

You might be able to apply to your council to help top-up your Housing Benefit in the short term with a Discretionary Housing Payment.

They are available to people who are facing a shortfall between their benefits and housing costs.

Consider getting a lodger

Renting out your spare room might be a possibility.

If you do decide to go down this route, there are a few things you need to know:

  • Having a lodger would mean you’re no longer considered as having a spare room when it comes to assessing your Housing Benefit.
  • However, apart from the first £20 a week, the extra cash you get in rent is likely to be deducted, pound for pound, from your benefits.
  • You’ll have to check your tenancy agreement allows you to sublet a room.
  • Your contents insurance might not be valid if you take in a lodger. Make sure you check with your insurer you’re still covered.
  • Download a factsheet about renting out a room in your home from the GOV.UK website.

Act quickly if you have rent arrears

If you are already behind with your rent, you must speak to your landlord straight away.

You might be able to come to agreement with them where you pay them the money you owe bit by bit.

If you need advice on how to deal with your landlord or you’re worried about losing your home, you can call Shelter or the Citizens Advice Bureau, or Housing Advice NI in Northern Ireland.

Council Tax

Local councils have their own Council Tax Reduction Schemes.

In some areas you won’t have to pay anything towards your Council Tax bill, while in others you might have to pay a percentage of it.

If you live in Northern Ireland, for help on rates go here.

Check the bill you’ve been sent is correct

It’s worth checking your council is charging you the correct amount of Council Tax.

You should check your home has been put in the right band and whether you qualify for any exemptions or discounts.

Read our guide on how to Save money on your Council Tax bill.

Ask your council to spread the payments over 12 months

You can choose to spread your payments over 12 months instead of 10.

Contact your local council and ask them to set up monthly payments.

Claim a Discretionary Housing Payment to help with your Council Tax

You might be able to apply to your council for a Discretionary Housing Payment to help with your Council Tax payments.

If your benefit has been cut as a result of a sanction

If your benefits have been sanctioned then there are things you can do, such as:

  • check the sanction is correct and challenge it if not
  • apply for a hardship payment from the Jobcentre
  • get help with essential costs from your local welfare scheme.

Free debt advice

If you you’re worried about falling behind with bills or keeping up with debt repayments there is lots of free, confidential help and advice available.

Help with budgeting

Look at how much you have to live on

Work out how much money you have coming in. Then list all your outgoings.

How much money do you need to pay for the basics?

Remember that bills like your rent or mortgage, your Council Tax and your gas and electricity should be your top priority.

Use our online Budget planner to work out your income and outgoings.

Call the Money Advice Service on 0800 138 7777 and one of our advisers will be able to help you do a budget.

See if you can make any cutbacks

Is there any way of reducing your expenditure? Are there any bills where you think you might be able to get a better deal?

Read our Money saving tips to see if there’s any savings you can make.

For practical, everyday money saving tips, check out our My Money guides.

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.

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Some important information about Rest Less Money

We want you to understand the positives, but also the limitations of using our site. We operate in a journalistic manner and therefore all information, guidance or suggestions provided are intended to be general in nature, and you should not rely on any of the information on the site in connection with the making of any financial decision.

When we set out to build Rest Less Money, we wanted to be a trusted place where you could find helpful information about financial matters affecting the over 50s. As a free to use resource, we try hard to provide the best information we can, but we cannot guarantee that we won’t occasionally make mistakes. So please note that you use the information on our site at your own risk, and we can’t accept liability if things go wrong.

Key things to remember when using Rest Less Money:

We do not offer financial advice – As a journalistic site, it’s important to know that we do not provide financial advice. You should always do your own research before choosing any financial product so that you can be certain it is right for you and your specific circumstances. If you are in any doubt, please seek professional financial advice from a regulated financial advisor.

No Liability – please note that you use the information on Rest Less Money at your own risk and we can’t accept liability for how you choose to use the information given on our site. We will often provide links to content or products and services available on other third-party websites. These are provided purely for your convenience and we cannot be held responsible for any content, or any of the products and services offered on any website that we link to.

 

Accuracy of Information – We try to make sure that all the information provided on Rest Less Money is correct at the time of publishing as we want it to be the most helpful resource possible. Sadly, we are not perfect however, and so we can make no guarantees as to the completeness, accuracy, adequacy or suitability of the information available on the site.
Whilst we work hard to try and provide accurate information, deals and prices can change, so whilst they may be correct at the time of writing, providers may subsequently decide to alter them later – so always double check first.

A final note on the Rest Less Community Forums – always remember that anyone can post their opinion on the Rest Less Community Forums, so it can be very different from our own opinion and may not be factual or well researched. Always be wary of any content posted on the forums and be sure to do your own research and due diligence on anything suggested. 

We hope you find Rest Less Money a useful resource and we would welcome your feedback at [email protected] on how to make it even better. For more information on any of the above you can read our full terms and conditions.

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