Benefits Reforms

The Government is abolishing the national Council Tax Benefit Scheme. Council Tax Benefit helps people with low income to pay their Council Tax. Councils will have to replace the Government scheme with one of their own.  These local schemes are part of the Government's wider welfare reform programme.

New local schemes will start on 1 April 2013. To make sure we have a scheme that suits our communities, South Somerset District Council is consulting with residents on proposals for our local scheme.

This consultation has now closed.


News letter detailing the changes

Read our special news letter detailing the changes that are being made to Housing and Council Tax Benefit starting in April 2013

The newsletter was sent to every household in South Somerset in June 2012.

The key changes are:

•  Abolition of the national Council Tax Benefit Scheme as a social security benefit. This is being replaced with a local Council Tax  Reduction  Scheme from April 2013

• Reduction in Housing Benefit from April 2013 for working age social housing tenants whose accommodation is larger than their assessed need

•   Overall Cap on the total amount of out-of-work benefit that can be awarded - The cap will be applied by reducing Housing Benefit awards from April 2013

•   Introduction of the single Universal Credit from October 2013, which will replace a number of benefits including Housing Benefit. Universal Credit will be paid direct to one person in the household once a month in arrears

•  Increase the Local Housing Allowance rates by CPI (the Consumer Price Index) each April instead of being based on market rent levels and reviewed on the anniversary of the claim date. This starts in April 2013

The following measures will also have an impact on residents in South Somerset:

•  Housing Benefit for Pensioners to be paid as a Housing Support element in Pension Credit from October 2014

• The introduction of Personal Independence Payments to replace the current Disability Living Allowance

•  Amendments to the forthcoming statutory child maintenance scheme

•  Limitations to the payment of contributory Employment and Support Allowance to a 12-month period

•  Transfer of funding for Crisis Loans & Community Care Grants from DWP to Somerset County Council.

In this newsletter you will find more information about the key changes that will come into effect during 2013.

We will be writing to those households that are affected by the key changes to give them more detail about how it will affect them and what help and advice is available to them.

We will be keeping residents up to date with these changes on our website (, and there will be a further newsletter with the winter edition of the Council's South Somerset News.

It is our aim to minimise the impact of these changes on our residents as much as we can by providing advice and support throughout the period of change.