‘Make Money Work’ – housing benefit cap support scheme launched

Winchester City Council is launching a support scheme to offer advice for people affected by the new housing benefit cap.

Working with colleagues in the housing department and partners at Citizen’s Advice and Job Centre Plus, the Council’s Benefits and Welfare team will provide advice on debt, money management and access into work.

The support scheme, called ‘Make Money Work’, is being launched on 24 October to coincide with the next phase of the housing benefit cap which comes into force on 7 November 2016.

The cap is part of Government’s on-going welfare reforms and limits the maximum amount of benefit working-age claimants can receive in out-of-work benefits. When the new phase of the cap is applied from 7 November those affected will see an immediate reduction in the amount of housing benefit they receive to help pay their rent. This means they may struggle to pay their rent and be at risk of getting into debt, rent arrears or homelessness.

Around 100 claimants in the Winchester district will be affected by the new cap.

Surgeries will be held with drop-in sessions where residents can find advice and guidance on the help available to support them through changes in their benefits.

The project is aimed at those affected by the benefit cap but the team is happy to help anyone concerned about the effect of welfare reform on their benefits.

Cllr Stephen Godfrey, the Leader of Winchester City Council, said:

We believe we are providing an innovative solution to help our residents by working with partners to provide debt advice, money management advice and access into work.

For those residents who work with the team we can provide additional support to bridge the gap between their rent and new cap level whilst they work with the Council, partners and stakeholders to look at re-structuring their finances or access into work. The cap does not affect those who have someone in the household working over 16 hours, so finding a job is a key purpose of support.